City parks can often be green lungs for their settlements. They can be important spaces for recreation, and provide a place to connect with nature in an urban jungle.
But unfortunately, looking around the world, it is clear that many city parks are not meeting their full potential. Many are unfortunately dominated by paved areas, manicured flower beds and green lawns, lacking in diversity and not delivering all they could to surrounding inhabitants or for urban wildlife.
City parks should be looked on as more than just green spaces. They should be looked on as spaces which can help reforge connections between people and the natural world from which so many are disconnected. Rewilding some areas of city parks would certainly have profound ecological benefits – and would have many benefits for city-dwellers too.
Beyond this, however, city parks could and should be thriving community spaces. People should not just use them for a stroll, jog or cycle. They should also turn to them for other needs and desires. Edible landscaping, food forests and forage areas are low-maintenance and would help tackle food/ poverty issues. And giving people a stake in the system would mean they would be more likely to respect it.
City parks can also become urban farms – as has been shown at many existing urban farm sites. And these do not only provide food, but can also provide places of learning and fun. While brownfield sites can also be considered for a range of exciting urban food production and community projects, as you will see in tomorrow’s case study, existing city parks often offer a great place to start with community enrichment.