August 21, 2019
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Green city conceptLike any urbanization story, the Philippines is fast losing its green spaces to residential areas, factories, power plants, and recreational areas. Although these are signs of a thriving economy, the task of balancing them with natural elements is often overlooked. This comes at the expense of Filipinos’ health and environment.

Urban centers, which houses about 46% of the population, bear the brunt of this problem. The rising population density means there’s less space for vegetation, making it harder for the people and the city itself to breathe.

The Lungs of the City

John Campton, the author of The Proximity Principle, says that green spaces are the “Lungs of the City.” The plants refresh the air and reduce the effects of pollution. They also encourage a healthy lifestyle by providing spaces for physical activities. Moreover, open areas offer space for recreation and socialization, promoting friendly neighborhoods.

Diminishing green spaces, therefore, spells trouble for city dwellers.

Heat Island Effect and Health Benefits

Without green spaces, nothing would temper the urban heat island effect. Soaring temperatures would drive up energy bills and lead to higher incidences of heat-related illnesses, such as heat exhaustion, heat cramps, and heat stroke.

In contrast, more green areas would produce considerable amounts of oxygen, absorb carbon dioxide, and filter dirty air. Several studies also suggest that they facilitate emotional well-being and make people smarter.

Towards a Greener Country

Although the ample presence of vegetation is a universal concern, the country lags behind its neighbors. For instance: Singapore and Hong Kong enjoy 47% and 40% of green areas, respectively, while Metro Manila has only 7%.

Various institutions are conducting various initiatives to solve the problem. The Davao City government plans to allocate 750,000 square meters for green spaces by 2021. Major manufacturing sectors, such as the automotive, pulp and paper, furniture, plastic, housing, and copper industries, have also turned to greener practices since 2016.

Meanwhile, private residents do their part, too. For example, a Lancaster New City review by Real Estate Hub, a property review site, details the community’s various green initiatives.

Conversion of open spaces to industrial areas can’t be helped. It is, after all, for the benefit of the people. The citizens, however, should not lose sight of the advantages of green spaces. Instead, they should exert effort to preserve what little is remaining.

Terohan Nula