Landscaping can improve the comfort and health of city dwellers and the state of the environment. But how? The city of Forssa ordered a package of proposals with justifications from Luke.
A multi-purpose center is currently being built in Forssa, which will include a primary school, a kindergarten and sports facilities. When the centre’s yard plan was completed last year, Niina Salminen-Åberg, Forssa’s Environmental Manager, asked Luke’s researchers to take a look at the plans in terms of comfort, health and diversity and to suggest any changes still possible and worthwhile. The survey was extended to a neighboring plot, which is not being built at this stage.
“The ultimate goal was for us to be able to utilize the scientifically based ideas that Luke has to offer in any green space plan we make,” says Salminen-Åberg.
Luke’s package of justified recommendations provides us with information that will allow us to select the best options for green space planning and also justify them to policy makers, employees and city dwellers.”
– Niina Salminen-Åberg, Environmental Manager of the City of Forssa
Folding branches, edible berries
Among other things, Luke’s package of justified recommendations presents ways in which green spaces can reduce noise, absorb air pollutants and control stormwater as well as possible. The city of Forssa chose to pay special attention to how a green area attracts children to explore nature with all their senses and at the same time get health benefits.
“Aki Sinkkonen‘s team at Luke has studied how the green environment supports human immune defense. Just a game with sticks and cones brings children useful microbial exposure, which may reduce the incidence of allergies, for example,” says Eeva-Maria Tuhkanen, Senior Scientist from Luke. She considers it a good starting point in school and kindergarten yards that children are allowed to touch plants and use them in their games.
“We recommend or favor, for example, plants from which branches can be broken off for play and from which petals, seeds, cones and leaves fall off. Some of the abundant vegetation can also produce edible berries or fruits.”
Tuhkanen emphasizes that the choice of each plant species and coating affects how people feel, what health benefits they receive and how nature is doing.
The idea package helps to justify the options made in green space planning
According to Tuhkanen, children’s play or biodiversity can also be promoted through choices in the care of green areas. Leaves are shredded into the lawn to decompose, a tree trunk is left to rot and some of the lawns are replaced with meadows. A place is reserved for a snowpile for children to slide on.
“Many people take hay and rotten trees as neglect, so these choices will have to be justified,” says Tuhkanen. Doubts or resistance can also be aroused by ditches that delay stormwater and inspire children to play with healthy but messy mud. Salminen-Åberg hopes that attitudes will change as knowledge increases.
“Luke’s package of justified recommendations provides us with information that will allow us to choose the best options in green space planning and also justify them to decision makers, employees and city dwellers. City planners already support this kind of thinking in principle, ”says Salminen-Åberg.