In highly urbanised cities, where green spaces are a rarity, municipal parks serve as valuable lung spaces, says Pauline Deborah R.
Parks are important components of urban topography. A city without a park is a system without a heart beat. It takes a great effort to plan and design a park to meet the needs and demands of an urban society. More so, it is a greater effort to sustain and maintain the initial enthusiasm of the park’s design and purpose.
Why are parks important? Urban parks play a dynamic role but are sometimes underappreciated and are often taken for granted. Parks are ‘urban oases’ that serve as carbon sinks for a highly polluted city. Also, the close knit vegetational cover in parks are an excellent source of water catchment areas, atmospheric particulate dust trappers, bio-filters, noise mitigators, air-purifiers. They also provide other valuable ecosystem services like attracting birds and butterflies. Every zone in a municipality should have a proportionately sized park that will provide these invaluable ecosystem services that cannot be technologically simulated otherwise.
Because of their significant contribution in terms of pollution mitigation, the parks should be protected from being the victims of road widening and other developmental purposes. Can any human life function without lungs? It’s the same with parks which are the ecological lungs that detoxify the pollutants in the environment and are much required for a healthy urban lifestyle.
A public park should cater to the comfort of all age groups, especially for the disabled.
An aroma garden with plants like frangipani, roses, thulsi, champak, gardenias, manoranjitham, ylang-ylangs, along with a touch and feel garden will be much appreciated by those who are vision-challenged.
A play area exclusively for kids with both green and steel gadgets can attract kids to these nature abodes, who have otherwise moved away from the concept of outdoor activity and channelled themselves towards virtual platforms like video games, social networks, computers, mobiles, etc...
The basic amenities of every park will reflect its preparedness to handle not only day-trippers but also disasters. All parks should have
Clean toilets, which are necessary for the hygiene of those who visit the park.
A medical centre with first-aid facility to attend to minor accidents, injuries and sudden calamities.
A cafeteria with very basic food items like juices, water and nutritious food.
Signage to various facilities inside the park.
Stone or wooden or metal benches for relaxation.
Garbage bins at strategic points but without smarring the park aesthetics.
Facilities for senior citizens and the physically challenged like ramps, specially designed toilets, etc.
People who visit parks have a very important role in maintaining the aesthetics and decorum of the green space.
They should ensure that parks are litter-free and enjoyable for everyone who comes there. Parks have always been a great source of inspiration for writers, artists, gardeners, teachers, poets, naturalists… Parks provide an ambient space for jogging, meditation, discourses, nature tours, family parties, physical exercise, play stations and are terrific stress-busters.
It’s not only an entertainment and social space for multifarious groups, but also a great educational space for those who have an eye for biodiversity components – flowers, insects, butterflies, moths, birds, mammals, trees, lawns, etc.
Urban parks are indeed paradises on earth, as they benevolently provide pleasure under pressure.
It is the unsaid duty of every one to demonstrate stewardship through conservation and appreciation of green spaces by adapting the following dos and don’ts.
Enjoy the time spent in the green space.
Take deep breaths and inhale fresh and unpolluted air.
Respect every little life there – be it a grass, bee, butterfly or a flower.
Volunteer for the maintenance of parks – pruning, propagation, potting, watering, preparing signage etc.
Try to appreciate the hard work that has gone into the creation and maintenance of the park.
Do not litter the park.
Parks are not picnic spots. Therefore avoid all picnic accessories.
Shun away from plucking flowers or fruits or breaking branches for vegetative propagation at home.
Avoid vandalising the infrastructure and marking graffiti on tree trunks.
Do not underestimate or take for granted the presence of a park in the neighbourhood.
The writer is a botanist and assistant professor, department of plant biology, Women's Christian College