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Monday, November 22, 2021

Greenest Cities In Europe – How Much Greenery The Cities Have?

Many European cities boast of beautiful stately parks and streets filled with bicycles especially in cities like Paris and Copenhagen, which resemble picture-postcard layouts, which are vastly comparable to the jam-packed cities like the ones in North America and other cities. A new study from Barcelona’s Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) gives a different impression giving way to a somewhat different painting of these supposed to be green cities and accessible green spaces, which could decrease the lifespan of a thousand people residing here every year, reports Bloomberg News. 

The ISGlobal Study has analyzed more than 1000 cities with more than 100,000 residents across the European continent. The study was published in The Lancet Planetary Health and it suggests that the European cities could ward off as many as 43,000 deaths every year if the World Health Organization’s guidelines are followed that was related to access to the green spaces. 

About 60% of the urban residents studied were not able to access greenery that is recommended by WHO which suggests that at least 0.5 hectares (1.24 acres) of green space must be present within 300 meters (984 feet) at a linear distance from every home. 

Bloomberg News reports that the rankings of the study comprise some unexpected losers and winners. It was found that many cities that are known for their pleasant surroundings and beauty did not perform well, whereas, other cities that do not have the reputation of being glamorous do well. The topmost cities that were quite offending include Italian cities that are tourist attractions like the cities of Turin, Trieste, the Danish Capital, Copenhagen. While cities like Rotherham (United Kingdom) and Walbrzych (Poland) appear to have the best compliance and proportion of green space across the urban setup amongst the 10 cities. 

One of the main reasons that the cities have scored low on the scale is not because they do not an adequate number of parks but because the distribution of these very parks is poor and as such, they do not provide equal access to everyone. The United Kingdom and European cities have a so-called “green space gap” between the wealthier residents that reside in greener leafy areas and the not-so-rich population that live in spaces that lack greenery. 

To find out how much green space is available in each city, the researchers made use of NDVI or Normalized Difference Vegetation Index, which is a graphical indicator that is widely employed using satellite imagery for the calculation of the amount of green space within any given area. 

The study then did a mapping of deaths over images derived from NDVI of 1000 cities that have been studied. 

Bloomberg News reports that although the level of detail may be quite new, an association is already established. A collaborative meta-study that was conducted in 2019 by WHO, ISGlobal, and the University of Colorado found that for an increase in every 0.1 points in score on NDVI, within 500 meters in a residential area, a reduction of 4% in premature mortality was noticed. 

The probable reasons for the boost in green health are many. Exercise facilities are provided in some areas like improvement in public health for nearby residents. Trees assist in reducing the pollutants in the atmosphere, curtail the ill-effects of urban heat effects, and minimize stress and sleep disorders by offering a buffer space against traffic sounds. 

Bloomberg News reports that some studies have also found a relation between boosted immune response and green areas. These factors contribute to the reduction in mortality rates around urban green spaces. 

The ISGlobal study also signals another important aspect and that is as per WHO guidelines to bring about improvement in health, green spaces must be distributed uniformly across urban areas. 


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Josie Patra
Josie Patra is a veteran writer with 21 years of experience. She comes with multiple degrees in literature, computer applications, multimedia design, and management. She delves into a plethora of niches and offers expert guidance on finances, stock market, budgeting, marketing strategies, and such other domains. Josie has also authored books on management, productivity, and digital marketing strategies.

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