Public parks are a part of daily life. People pass through parks on their way to school and work. People go to parks to relax, run or walk their dogs. Public parks offer a great view in high-rise buildings…
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Travellers navigate with public parks as landmarks and travel routes. In the U.K., there are at least 27,000 thousand public parks that cover 143,000 hectares of land. These parks offer spaces for leisure, recreation, sports, entertainment and business. Some parks are open and very accessible while other parks are walled with gated entrances. Around 1.5 billion people visit these parks each year. With many people using parks, upkeep is necessary. The government spends ?630 million of taxpayer’s money for the upkeep of these parks. Every visit costs 42 pence. In the last 10 years, spending on public parks has decreased. (Urban Parks Forum, 2001) With decreased spending, the trend is good parks are becoming better and bad parks continue to deteriorate (Urban Parks Forum, 2001). The state of the park has a direct relationship with visits. Deteriorating parks mean lower number and frequency of visits. Decrepit public parks become spaces for antisocial activities and crime. These parks are evaded by residents, with the effect of further facilitating the use of these parks for unwanted activities. In an effort to control the deterioration of public parks, given budget cuts, a measure being done is using gates and locking parks. The park can be accessed only during certain hours, such as from 6 am to 7 pm. All people inside will be asked to leave when the parks close. This practice has spurred the issue of limiting people’s access to public parks when they are paying for the upkeep. Importance of Public Parks Public parks are important. Public parks benefit people. These benefits justify the development of public parks and government spending on upkeep. Public parks support environmental sustainability. Green spaces facilitate the development of urban ecosystems (Zhou & Rana, 2012). Public parks support biodiversity, including plants, animals and insect that plays a role in sustaining the natural environment. At the same time, public parks are green spaces that allow people to interact with the natural environment and become part of the ecosystem. (Barbosa et al., 2007) Trees and vegetation in parks regulate temperature by providing a cooling effect. Trees provide shade in hot weather and absorb heat. This prevents the urban heat island effect from happening. Without trees and plants, heat would be absorbed by concrete, which is capable of retaining heat for long hours. When heat accumulates in concrete, temperatures in the area rises. Park greenery also lowers air pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide to create oxygen and providing barriers to noise. (Millward & Sabir, 2011) When it rains, trees and plants in public parks absorb water to prevent runoffs that cause floods (Dolesh, 2011). Public parks improve the aesthetic quality of neighbourhoods and city centres (Millward & Sabir, 2011). The greenery balances the monotonous visual effect of concrete and asphalt in cities (Salazar & Menendez, 2007). Landscaping in public parks is intended to provide a pleasant view to visitors and passersby. Public parks also promote health and safety. Interaction with nature can improve physical and psychological well-being. Public parks encourage physical activity (Salazar & Menendez, 2007). Parks provide various opportunities for physical activity as a way for people to get their required doses of physical exercise to prevent health conditions, such as heart problems and obesity (Bedimon-Rung, Mowen, & Cohen, 2005). Public parks provide social, economic and political benefits. Public parks provide a good place for social interaction (Barbosa et al., 2007). Social interaction happens when people engage in leisure, recreational or sports activities in public parks. Public parks also create employment, which ranges from the upkeep of the park to
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