Probably green infrastructure needs explaining before I proceed and therefore, I need to take a step back. Green infrastructure is the green part of the urban environment, it covers everything from urban forests and parks to street trees, it creates oxygen, absorbs carbon, creates wildlife habitat and urban greenery has also been proven to improve mental health and well-being*.
During the Corona crisis governments limited public gatherings which decreased the possibilities to take part recreational activities and cultural life, leisure, play and sports. Soon people discovered the unseen possibilities for sports and leisure in urban forests, camp grounds, parks, observation decks, public beaches, botanical gardens. Being outside became a crucial necessity to feel free, to move around and to let go of the stress of lock down. In Estonia the public green areas became so popular that the State forest management center (which manages national forests and camp grounds) had to announce rules for preventing too many people from gathering in the same hiking trail. Spending time outside at a park or in the nature in general is good for physical and mental health – enjoying fresh air and stunning views, letting the mind wander off, moving at your own pace etc.
The Corona pandemic made us realize the importance of the healing effect of green infrastructure to our physical and mental health. When there were serious restrictions for going to grocery stores, to work, to school and how to act in public transport then in the nature and in the parks, it was possible to feel free. After analyzing “Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports” then there was a great change in mobility trends during Corona regarding. There was a big decline in mobility in grocery shopping, retail, transit stations and workplaces and a great growth in mobility in green areas. In the table below I highlighted countries that surround Estonia in the bigger picture (unfortunately no data available for Russia). Many countries show increase in mobility in green areas during the lock down. Some of them even more than +60% compared to the times before lock down (in February). In Estonia the mobility in green areas grew 62% and in Denmark 173%. There was a serious decrease in United Kingdom (-6%) because of the restrictions of visiting parks to avoid the spread of COVID-19.
Data is collected from Google LLC “Google COVID-19 Community Mobility Reports”. Accessed: May 17 2020
I feel proud that as a landscape architect me and my colleagues’ work has been recognized. People use the public space we have created for them; they feel there is a way of letting go of the stress of lock down and being in nature provides an opportunity improve the health-related quality of life and well-being. This is the best feedback ever – I can make the world a better place!
The times when we don’t care about the quality of our living environment is getting over! I’m so excited!