The benefits of Community Gardens and Green Rooftops

The amount of community gardens and green rooftops has significantly increased, especially in the urban setting. New York City is a prime example because it is one of the most crowded cities, people and building wise. This city is always undergoing new construction projects and movement, so it is about time that it took a few initiatives to mitigate the city’s ecological footprint. Community gardens and green rooftops are tackling climate change while providing numerous of other benefits to the community. Community gardens reduce the amount of transported food and offer locally grown fruits and vegetables. This reduces the emissions that are produced from transportation, which will reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, and decrease the temperature.

Community gardens are proven to have mental health benefits especially in children. This allows more people to be more connected and aware of their surroundings. By being exposed to the benefits of community gardens can make people have a deeper connection to the environment and make them want to protect it. A few of the ways that it helps mitigate climate change are by filtering rainwater, and helps keeps rivers and groundwater clean. Reduces soil erosion and runoff, which decreases flooding and saves the city money. Overall, it reduces CO2 in the atmosphere because the plants and soils take up the CO2 and releases more oxygen, acting as sinks.

Green rooftops are also extremely beneficial to the urban environment and its well-being. Green rooftop contributes to storm water management because water is stored by the substrate and taken up by the plants from where it is returned to the atmosphere through transpiration and evaporation. In the summer, depending of the types of plants and their growing season, green roofs retain 70%-90% of the precipitation that falls on them. During the winter, they retain 25%-40% of the precipitation. Through the daily dew and evaporation cycle, plants on vertical and horizontal surfaces are able to cool cities during hot summer months and reduce the Urban Heat Island Effect. Green roofs can also help reduce the distribution of dust and particulate matter throughout the city, as well as the production of smog. This can play a role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and adapting urban areas to a future climate with warmer summers.

The plants on green roofs can capture airborne pollutants and atmospheric deposition. The temperature moderating effects of green roofs can reduce demand on power plants, and potentially decrease the amount of CO2 and other polluting by-products being released into the air. The presence of a green roof decreases the exposure of waterproofing membranes to large temperature fluctuations that can cause micro-tearing, and ultraviolet radiation. Green roofs can sustain a variety of plants and invertebrates, and provide a habitat for various bird species. By acting as a stepping stone habitat for migrating species they can link species together that would otherwise be fragmented. Using green roofs as the site for an urban agriculture project can reduce a community’s urban footprint through the creation of a local food system. (GreenRoof 2014)

There are many positive outcomes that come with the creation of community gardens and green rooftops. I hope that they will continue to increase which will minimize the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. The plants and soils take up more CO2 and release more oxygen into the atmosphere. Community gardens and green rooftops are increasing and they are a great way to combat climate change.

Even though community gardens and green rooftops provide a lot of benefits for the environment, it also improves the well-being of those involved. Any person can get involved by joining an existing community garden or by creating their own. Once a person helps contributes to a community garden, they also get to take their own vegetables home. A person can also support community gardens by buying a plot f the garden and picking up their vegetables instead of buying them for the store. Green rooftops can be created on top of a person’s home or a office buildings.

Sources:

Gardening Matters. 2012. Multiple Benefits of Community Gardening. Retrieved from: http://www.gardeningmatters.org/sites/default/files/Multiple%20Benefits_2012.pdf

Green Roof for Healthy Cities. 2014. Green Roof Benefits. Retrieved from: http://www.greenroofs.org/index.php/about/greenroofbenefits

Ecotourism the New Movement

Ecotourism has become extremely popular in a lot of countries, mostly in developing countries. Ecotourism is a great way to preserve the environment while providing the local people with economic profit. According to Martha Honey book, Ecotourism and Sustainable Development: Who owns Paradise? There are new tourists that want a different experience from the resort world. People are starting to get into tourism that involves nature. These types of activities might include hiking, sight-seeing, zip lining, climbing, and other recreational activities. Since this boom of ecotourism has arisen, many countries have taken initiative to conserve more forests and wildlife. This also gives the opportunity to the local people to start their own small sustainable businesses. Martha Honey mentioned in her book the seven key characteristics of ecotourism are: It

  1. Travel to natural destinations
  2. Minimizes environmental impact
  3. Builds environmental awareness
  4. Provides direct money to conservation
  5. Provides money and empowerment to local people
  6. Respects local culture
  7. Supports human rights and democratic movements

A great example of this is Costa Rica, which have broken a record this year for having 2.6 million tourists visits in the year 2015. That is fantastic that so many people around the world want to visit Costa Rica to explore its natural wonders. In Monteverde, Costa Rica is located the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve, which allows the visitors access to see only 2% of the forest. The rest of the forest is protected and the visitors of the forest help contribute to the protection of the forest: some of the money for the ticket goes toward persevering the forest. The visitors also bring in revenue for the local people instead of the big corporations that are not involved in the environmental movement.

The community of Monteverde knows how popular ecotourism has become and has created small businesses that provide people with different experiences. Tourism has also become a popular career choice for students. Tour guides go into the field, and mostly work in national parks to eventually have their own business one day. Another popular attraction in Costa Rica, is in the Osa Peninsula where the Corcovado National Park is located. This national park holds 2.5% of the world’s biodiversity. It is a major attraction for people and economic source for the country. This makes the government more willing to protect the forests of Costa Rica, at the same time creating environmental awareness for people.

Ecotourism is helping combat climate change because since the forests are being reserved, there are more trees and biodiversity. The forests are acting as carbon sinks and absorbing more CO2 in the atmosphere. If the forests will use this CO2 and store it in biomass. There will be less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere which will cause  less harmful impacts to the environment. If there is less CO2 in then it will reduce the greenhouse effect and climate change.

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Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve

If ecotourism is done the right way then more forests and natural land are going to be conserve which is going to help with climate change. If more forests are being protected instead of being deforested by people, then they will act as carbon sinks and decrease the amount of CO2 occurring in the environment. Ecotourism provides a lot of benefits, and the biggest one is protecting the environment. I am hopeful that a lot of forests and wildlife will be protected in the long term because of ecotourism.

Sources:

Honey, Martha (2008) Ecotourism and Sustainable Development:Who Owns Paradise? 2nd Edition. Washington, DC: Island Press.

http://www.ticotimes.net/2016/01/16/costa-rica-welcomes-2-6-million-tourists-2015-hits-new-record

http://www.untamedpath.com/eco-tours/benefits-of-ecotourism.shtml

http://www.monteverdeinfo.com/monteverdes-cloud-forests.html

http://costa-rica-guide.com/nature/national-parks/corcovado/