Urban parks get more important role in flood alleviation

International speakers at Ecobuild conference highlight role of urban parks in flood alleviation.

Urban parks will play a more crucial role in flood alleviation in years to come, an international conference heard last week.

Speakers from around the world told the Ecobuild conference that city parks are becoming increasingly critical not just for the health and well-being of people but for the safety and security of our towns and cities.

Professor Tony Wong, chief executive of the Centre for Water Sensitive Cities in Melbourne, told the conference at London's ExCeL that a way to mitigate damage from climate change is to rely on parks, and build more, to keep water in the landscape.

A few years ago Melbourne launched a policy initiative to build 10,000 pocket parks to soak up rainfall in an effort to "institutionalise" the idea of parks and green spaces as the "kidneys" of cities.

"We need to understand the scalability of wetlands and parks and then we can embed those systems into the urban environment."

Forestry Commission urban adviser Jim Smith said Britain inherited a great legacy of parks and open spaces from the Victorians and Edwardians but has to "give something to future generations" by building more.

Environment Agency environment and business manager Damian Crilly said parks are crucial for "resilient cities" that are capable of fending off problems caused by extreme weather patterns.

He cited Longbridge in Birmingham as a good example, where an urbanised area with inefficient drainage is being redesigned around a new park that forms the heart of a green corridor.

KEYSTAT

The number of pocket parks built to date in Melbourne, Australia, against a target of 10,000 - 8,218 pocket parks


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