GREENING THE GREY: Does urban green space cater for societal well-being and biodiversity?

 

ABSTRACT
Strong evidence suggests the implementation of green infrastructure can not only reduce the rapid decline of our species and habitats due to development and agriculture, but also promote economic growth and boost health and wellbeing of urban residents. This study applies multiple spatial functions into a single set of targets in order to deliver effective urban green space generation for both people and nature.
Utilising the ‘Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard’ (ANGSt) by Natural England, health and wellbeing is determined by housing proximity to urban green spaces, with Gloucester as the study city. Habitat fragmentation uses pollinator foraging distances as the indicator group and measure for biodiversity. GIS mapping software enables cartographic outputs that provide simple visual recommendations for areas requiring improvement by highlighting key zones of green space deprivation throughout the city. Further analysis looks in to the flight foraging distances of bees, to determine city connectedness of key habitat types; allotments; nature reserves; and temporary wildflower seeded patches.
The outcomes considerably emphasise the impact frequent, smaller patches of suitable habitat has on network connectance, dramatically increasing the reach and provision that can be supplied by a single permanent green space, or even an entire nature reserve. Differences in connectedness according to foraging distances are identified, with green space being poorly connected for species with limited foraging distances and more connected for those with larger foraging distances. The report provides support to the objectives of promoting open spaces as places to sustain and improve health and well-being, increasing the amount of open space under a wildlife management regime, and identifying areas that are in greater need of investment.

 

1. NATURE AND PEOPLE 

Green spaces in our cities have long been considered a ‘nice to have’ rather than a necessity by local councils and the government (Thompson, 2010). Yet strong evidence suggests that there are significant benefits of investing in green infrastructure (GI) and the environment. This stems well beyond the vast profits to biodiversity itself, now being intrinsically linked to economic growth as well as human health and well-being (Sunderland, 2012; Gore et al, 2013). The urban environment has great potential to provide a dynamic interaction between human culture and the natural world (Douglas and James, 2015).  

Experimental studies have further explored the relationship between people and nature within urban boundaries. Ulrich et al (1991) exposed subjects to stressful or negative conditions, followed by subsequent random assignment of either an everyday nature view or to urban conditions via a 10 minute video. The natural video produced significantly higher recovery within 4-7 minutes than the urban video, this was indicated by lower blood pressure, muscle tension and skin conductance (Ulrich et al, 1991).

It has also been found that nearby trees and grass visible from apartment buildings actually reduce mental fatigue, lessening intra-family aggression whilst enhancing residents’ effectiveness in facing major life issues (Kuo, 2001; Kuo and Sullivan, 2001; Tzoulas et al, 2007). Furthermore, research by Morita et al (2005) attempted to evaluate the psychological effects of Shinrin-yoku (‘walking and/or staying in forests in order to promote health’), a major form of relaxation in Japan. The study found hostility and depression significantly reduced whilst liveliness increased on days spent in the forest compared to the control, therefore, reducing the risk of stress-related disease (Morita et al, 2005).
When it comes to children, particularly those with attention deficit disorder (ADD), studies have found that parents noticed better functionality following activities in green settings - the greener the area, the less severe the ADD symptoms. Yet, in the UK less than 10% of children regularly play in natural areas (Juniper, 2015), with the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” coined by Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods”, originally published in 2005 (Louv, 2008).
Richard discusses disturbing childhood trends, linking the direct lack of exposure to nature to rises in obesity, attention disorders and depression (Louv, 2005). His book has spurred a national dialogue among health professionals, conservationists, parents, educators and developers, with a report released in May 2015 to the international medical community by Hertzen et al (2015), confirming that a disconnection from nature is ‘literally making humanity sick’. The report links the loss of biodiversity due to urbanisation with the increase in allergies, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, mental disorders, anxiety and depression (CWF, 2015; Hertzen et al, 2015).

1.1 Habitat fragmentation

The impact of habitat fragmentation and urban sprawl has led to increased isolation of species, a major threat to the viability of populations (Hanski and Gilpin 1991; Opdam et al. 1993; Vos et al, 2001; Johnson et al, 2004). This means our urban environments are becoming even more important for the viability of our native wildlife, with many conservation organisation adopting a landscape-approach in order to restore wildlife across the UK (Vos et al, 2001; The Wildlife Trusts, 2006). This concept removes the notion of fences and boundaries, looking instead to corridors, matrices, networks, connectivity, and the entire landscape mosaic (Douglas and James, 2015).

The definition of connectivity, according to Douglas and James (2015) is, ‘a measure of closeness, links and degree of spatial continuity of a corridor and network of patches’. The connectivity of any environment can be aided by the creation of continuous habitat corridors or a discrete mosaic of favoured habitat.  Designed effectively, these will enable species to move along inhospitable zones amid an assortment of resources.

Functional connectivity of a given habitat arrangement is highly dependent on the life history and behavioural ecology of any given species (Johnson et al, 2004). Subsequently, the distance by which animals forage strongly affects their population dynamics, genetic structure and life history (Greenleaf et al (2007). By taking into consideration elements such as home range, dispersal and body mass, spatial analysis of functional connectivity can be quantified and utilised when evaluating the impacts of habitat fragmentation (Johnson et al, 2004). This measurement can then be modelled to support the evaluation of impact fragmentation has on species within an urban environment.

1.2 Urbanisation

Landscape design has largely been focused on the suitability for people, agriculture, business and transportation. The conflicting priorities for landscape design, more often than not, limit habitat connectivity for wildlife. In Section 7, point 56, of the National Planning Policy Framework, entitled ‘Requiring good design’, states:

“The Government attaches great importance to the design of the built environment. Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, is indivisible from good planning, and should contribute positively to making places better for people.” (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2012) 

In order to seamlessly integrate ecology into our cities, there must be elements of informed urban design which works in-line with urban ecology and urban green space development, thus increasing and enhancing biodiversity, whilst still catering to human activities and choice (Douglas and James, 2015).

The UK was the first country to undertake a complete assessment looking into the benefits and value nature provides through a National Ecosystem Assessment (NEA) (Defra, 2011). They proved that ecosystems are critically important not only for wildlife, but also our own well-being and economic prosperity, yet they are undervalued in conventional economic analyses and decision-making.

Tony Juniper, a campaigner, writer, sustainability adviser and environmentalist, explains how re-aligning our economy with the restoration of nature would improve physical and mental health, boost businesses and save taxpayer’s money (Juniper, 2015; Mercer, 2015). Worldwide research has shown that both obesity and mental illness are significantly reduced with access to nature, with the estimated cost of mental illness at £105.2 billion for England in 2009 alone, and obesity expected to cost the NHS £45 billion by 2050 (Juniper, 2015). By interpreting nature in monetary terms and showcasing its benefits as services, decision-makers will be in a greater position to consider, protect and enhance biodiversity in a systematic and justifiable manner.

1.3 Health and well-being

Scientific links between socio-economics and health & well-being are well documented, with epidemiological studies providing strong evidence of a positive relationship between access to green space and health (de Vries et al, 2003). Such epidemiology studies are the cornerstone of public health, informing policy decisions and identifying risks and targets, weighing heavily on the agenda for councils across the UK. By tapping into the positive results nature brings to health and well-being, resource can be indirectly allocated to wildlife restoration and conservation within our cities, as a by-product of green space generation for people.

1.3.1 Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)
In turn, having previously been considered a ‘nice to have’, the implementation of green infrastructure (GI) now enables the reposition of green space from an amenity to a necessity (Thompson, 2010). Acknowledging the importance of providing the right amount of accessible green space for people, Natural England developed guidance to ensure the delivery of good urban planning, entitled the ‘Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard’ (ANGSt) (Thompson, 2010).

ANGSt is based on three key principles aiming to address the accessibility challenges across the UK. These include, (1) Improving access; (2) Improving naturalness; and, (3) Improving connectivity. The standard aims for natural sites and green spaces to be within easy reach of people’s homes, outlining the following:

“ANGSt recommends that everyone, wherever they live, should have an accessible natural greenspace: of at least 2 hectares in size, no more than 300 metres (5 minutes walk) from home; at least one accessible 20 hectare site within two kilometres of home; one accessible 100 hectare site within five kilometres of home; and one accessible 500 hectare site within ten kilometres of home; plus a minimum of one hectare of statutory Local Nature Reserves per thousand population.” (Thompson, 2010)

The Government stipulates in the National Planning Policy Framework (8:73) that ‘Access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to the health and well-being of communities’ (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2012). Yet the quality of ‘naturalness’ can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways. For that reason, the ANGSt guidelines provide a four level categorisation as a proxy measure for naturalness to assist clarification (Appendix 2) (Thompson, 2010). These levels give increased gravitas to those green spaces that are of higher biodiversity level, endorsing wildlife conservation in-line with green space creation.

1.3.2 Emotional stability
Further research into nature and well-being include those linked to emotional stability, stress, relationships and children. A study by Korpela et al (2001) found 50-60% of adults determined natural places as their favourite places. It is also suggested that natural features and open spaces play a key role in the self-regulation of feelings, as well as their attachment towards the community and interactions with other residents (Kim and Kaplan, 2004). However, research also suggested overgrown and unmanaged green spaces can create a negative impact, crafting anxiety caused by fear of crime (Kuo et al, 1998).
Experimental studies have further explored the relationship between people and nature within urban boundaries. Ulrich et al (1991) exposed subjects to stressful or negative conditions, followed by subsequent random assignment of either an everyday nature view or to urban conditions via a 10 minute video. The natural video produced significantly higher recovery within 4-7 minutes than the urban video, this was indicated by lower blood pressure, muscle tension and skin conductance (Ulrich et al, 1991).

It has also been found that nearby trees and grass visible from apartment buildings actually reduce mental fatigue, lessening intra-family aggression whilst enhancing residents’ effectiveness in facing major life issues (Kuo, 2001; Kuo and Sullivan, 2001; Tzoulas et al, 2007).

Furthermore, research by Morita et al (2005) attempted to evaluate the psychological effects of Shinrin-yoku (‘walking and/or staying in forests in order to promote health’), a major form of relaxation in Japan. The study found hostility and depression significantly reduced whilst liveliness increased on days spent in the forest compared to the control, therefore, reducing the risk of stress-related disease (Morita et al, 2005).

1.3.3 Children
Evidence towards the impact of green space within an urban environment has also been found beneficial to children with attention deficit disorder (ADD). The study by Taylor et al (2001) found that parents noticed better functionality following activities in green settings - the greener the area, the less severe the ADD symptoms. Yet, in the UK less than 10% of children regularly play in natural areas (Juniper, 2015), with the term “Nature Deficit Disorder” coined by Richard Louv in his book “Last Child in the Woods”, originally published in 2005 (Louv, 2008).

Richard discusses disturbing childhood trends, linking the direct lack of exposure to nature to rises in obesity, attention disorders and depression (Louv, 2005). His book has spurred a national dialogue among health professionals, conservationists, parents, educators and developers, with a report released in May 2015 to the international medical community by Hertzen et al (2015), confirming that a disconnection from nature is ‘literally making humanity sick’. The report links the loss of biodiversity due to urbanisation with the increase in allergies, autoimmune disease, inflammatory bowel disease, mental disorders, anxiety and depression (CWF, 2015; Hertzen et al, 2015).

A paediatrician in Washington, D.C. leads the ‘D.C. Park Prescription’ programme, connecting children to nature instead of drugs to cure various ailments (Zarr, 2013). In addition, the National Trust argues that the growing disassociation of children from the natural world, combined with the ‘cotton wool culture’ of parenting is impairing their capability to learn through experience (Black, 2012; Moss, 2012). Consequently, accessibility to natural spaces is of increasing importance to avoid people, and particularly our children, from losing contact with nature and the ability to develop emotional stability.

1.4. Pollinators

Whilst our green spaces gain positive scientific recognition for their assured impacts on health and well- being, as has risen awareness of the negative impact human activity has on pollinators around the globe. This group of insects is thought to support over one-third of the world’s crop production, whilst 80 percent of all flowering plant species are pollinated by animals (FAO, 2015). According to Winfree et al (2009), the species richness and abundance of bees have been found to be significantly, negatively affected by anthropogenic disturbance. The combined pressures from intensive agriculture, urban development and a 95% decline in wildflower rich grassland since the 1930s, has led to over 250 UK pollinators being acknowledged as in danger of extinction (BBC, 2013; Stubbs and Shardlow, 2014; Buglife, 2015).

Strong evidence from Biesmeijer et al (2006), suggests parallel declines in pollinators and the plants that are reliant on them for their reproduction. Steffan-Dewenter and Tscharntke (1999) determined that the mean body size of flower-visiting bees were larger on isolated habitats. This supports the predicted positive correlation between body size and foraging distance, indicating that smaller species, and the plants that rely on their specialist pollination strategies, are likely to be most at risk of habitat fragmentation (Greenleaf et al, 2007). In addition, Steffan-Dewenter and Tscharntke (1999) found that the number of seeds produced per fruit and per plant was halved at distances of 1000m from the nest despite the number of visits, suggesting a variety of pollinators are crucial to crop success.
For the North Somerset cider maker, Thatchers, pollinators contribute to a £60 million turnover, supporting the employment of 120 staff (Mercer, 2015). The company grows a range of different apple varieties which require cross pollination by insects, particularly bees. Research by Juniper (2015) has estimated that the cost of replacing insect pollination in the UK would be £1.8 billion. Subsequently, habitat connectivity and adaptive management practices should be prioritised to reduce isolated fragments, enhance heterogeneity and maintain abundant and diverse bee communities. In turn, this would support plant-pollinator interactions, particularly significant for economically important crops and endangered wild plants (Steffan-Dewenter and Tscharntke, 1999).

1.4.1 Foraging distance
Many pollinators are habitat specific, responding to the landscape features in differing ways, with particular specialisations and tolerances (Carré et al, 2009). Some are readily able to move through disturbed urban environments, whilst others are highly sensitive and limited in their movements and subsequent survival. These requirements need to be understood in detail for effective conservation.

Ephemeral resources in disturbed habitats may be becoming more predictable, whilst long-lived resources are becoming scarcer and further apart. Generalist species will tend to have open population structures and therefore expected to become more abundant and widespread within the urban environment, with lower chance of isolation from each other (Reigada et al, 2015). Specialists, on the other hand, with limited resource use, will have fewer opportunities within the landscape matrix and tend to have closed population structures (Reigada et al, 2015).

Well-kept gardens and parks are not always suitable breeding, feeding or nesting places for wildlife and in modern urban and agricultural landscapes, bees are often required to cross larger areas of low value land or crops to find suitable food resources (Walther-Hellwis and Frankl, 2000; Pelsmakers, 2015). Estimating bee foraging distances under various circumstances is crucial to predicting colony success, understanding population structure and the importance of scale (Osborne, 2008). It is also important to understand dispersal mechanisms for the succeeding generations and population growth, along with their resource configurations within the landscape. This information will support the fundamental issue of defining patch suitability, so not only do they have the resource to cater for current population demand, but also provide for population growth or dispersal.

Differing bee species have distinct foraging distances and thresholds. The threshold is a product of evolutionary history, but modern landscapes have changed resource patterns too fast for macro- evolutionary processes. Fragmented habitats mean bees are forced to travel further to provide for the hive, resulting in increased cost and lower benefit as hives or broods get smaller with less sustenance and increased mortality as long distance foraging exceeds the cost-benefit barrier.

It was understood by research from Rands and Whitney (2011) that nesting pollinators travel relatively short distances from the nest to forage. With most bee species known to travel a maximum of two kilometres, but the majority foraged under one kilometre away. They determined a ‘critical range’ estimate of 125 metres, considering species that only forage within a very short distance from their nests, such as the solitary bee species Andrena hattorfiana, Hylaeus punctulatissimus and Hoplitis adunca with average recorded foraging distances of 130m, 100-225m and 300m respectively (Zurbuchen et al, 2010; Rands and Whitney, 2011). Findings from the study by Zurbuchen et al (2010) suggest that, “threshold distances at which half of the population discontinues foraging are a more meaningful parameter for conservation practice than the species specific maximum foraging distances”. Therefore, a close mosaic of nesting and foraging habitat all within a few hundred metres is crucial to maintain the widest range of bee species populations.

When considering the urban environment, research by Orsini et al (2014) determined that 500 metres was a suitable distance between green spaces, as the most common bee pollinators have a flight foraging distance of 750m to 1500m. Walther-Hellwig and Frank (2000), acknowledged the foraging distances of Bombus terrestris, Bombus lapidarius and Bombus muscorum to be within a 500m radius of the nest site. 500m has also been applied by The Invertebrate Conservation Trust (Buglife) within their B-Lines initiative, suggesting that existing wildlife sites should have ‘stepping stones’ between them of ideally no less than 0.5km (Buglife, 2015). These sites can include temporary wild flower verges for example, but would preferably be over 2ha in size.

A study by Steffan-Dewenter et al (2002) determined that the species richness and abundance of solitary wild bees was closely positively correlated to the percentage of semi-natural habitats at small scales up to 750m. In contrast, they found little correlation for bumblebees or honey bees, indicating that local landscape destruction has a greater impact on solitary wild bees more than social bees. This, in turn, has been predicted to have a subsequent effect on mutualistic plant-pollinator interactions and competitiveness between wild bees and honey bees. The honey bee, Apis mellifera, has a very extensive foraging range, with a study from Beekam and Ratnieks (2000) witnessing more than 10% travelling distances of over 9.5km from the hive.

Campaigns have already been launched by both Plantlife and Buglife to regenerate our nation’s meadows through habitat creation. Buglife has partnered with numerous conservation organisations to lead the ‘B- Lines’ campaign, with the support of the Co-operative supermarket, the largest agricultural land owner in the UK (Stubbs and Shardlow, 2014). The initiative is helping support insect pollinators by aiming to substantially increase the area of permanent wildflower-rich habitats across the UK to a network of 150,000 hectares along which species can move and disperse (Stubbs and Shardlow, 2014; Buglife, 2015).

In April 2015, Plantlife launched a campaign to restore roadside verges as a vital refuge for wildflowers driven out of farmland, in turn supporting birds, bees and other wildlife. They estimated that there is three times more grassland on road verges than what is left in the countryside (Plantlife, 2015). By combining these two campaign objectives from Buglife and Plantlife and introducing their recommended practices into the urban environment, we can considerably aid habitat connectivity. Creating the stepping stones recommended by Buglife and reducing distances between suitable habitats, more pollinators will exist and thrive, whilst also providing further accessible space for people.
 

1.5 Creating space for people and pollinators

Urban planning for pollinators has the potential to work in conjunction with health and well-being objectives by utilising the concept of ‘accessible nature’ and combining distance recommendations for optimal connectivity. Sites needn’t be segregated for wildlife or for people, they need to be intertwined and innovated via forms of green infrastructure (GI) to create more space beyond what is already there, whilst maximising the potential of existing sites.

Gardens and adjacent habitats have the ability to form interconnected networks across restricted spatial environments, but may often lack suitable breeding, feeding or nesting places for wildlife. For many, gardens represent the only contact and access to people have with nature, with those of retired age spending proportionally more hours a week gardening than younger generations (Dunnett and Qasim, 2000). In 2013, the average garden size was 163.2 m2 (Barrow, 2014), where size plays an overwhelming role in determining garden composition (Smith, 2005), often restricting the ability to provide the range of life resources required for species to flourish. In addition, over one-third of houses with front gardens have replaced them with a hardstanding, almost doubling in the past 20 years due to car ownership, according to Tuffrey (2012). The government needs encouraging mechanisms for driving ‘wildlife-friendly’ management of gardens across communities, increasing awareness of the benefits to health and well- being, whilst offering incentives to prevent misuse and mismanagement of invaluable personal green spaces and places for wildlife (Goddard et al, 2010).

Allotments are an example of a high value site for both people and pollinators, providing essential habitat for bees that pollinate home-grown fruit and vegetables, whilst also providing social, health and well- being benefits to local communities (Ferres and Townshend, 2012). From June to October 2014, the Great British Bee Count revealed allotments as being the best habitat for bees. The campaign involved 23,000 people, logging sightings of over 832,000 bees across the UK over a 12 week period (FOE, 2014). Allotments had an average of 12 bees per count, compared to 10 in the countryside, 8 in gardens, 7 on school grounds, 7 in parks and 4 on roadsides (FOE, 2014). Allotments have great potential to play a positive role in leading a healthy lifestyle within an urban environment, yet pressures from development undermine the real benefits and potential for increasing allotment capacity across towns and cities (Ferres and Townshend, 2012).

Roadsides also played a significant part in the Great British Bee count, proving to be a great success with residents in towns and cities that have implemented wildflower seeding and altered mowing regimes. Other forms of GI can support a wide range of ecological and well-being related benefits. These include reduced energy consumption, CO2 sequestration, pollution trapping, solar shading and temperature control, noise and wind buffering and the absorption of rainwater and flooding (Pelsmakers, 2015). Utilising a wide range of urban vegetation and appropriately designed GI can reduce surface temperatures by 10-20°C whilst green roofs have the ability to absorb 50-90% of rainfall (Pelsmakers, 2015).

Along with wildflowers, trees can provide a vast range of benefits to residential and commercial areas and are considered an integral element of urban life. They increase ‘liveability’ and support healthy communities, reduce stormwater runoff, improve air quality, ameliorate the heat-island effect by providing shade, and offer carbon storage (Mullaney et al, 2015). Yet, planning and design can impose stress on street trees and create conflict between trees and pavements, increasing safety risks and management costs. More trees could be planted across our cities, opposed to removal, if more appropriate planting techniques were used to minimise these conflicts and enhance the life of the trees. According to Mullaney et al (2015), these could include root-zone based preventative strategies such as root barriers, structural soils and pervious surfaces.

Trees, wildflowers and natural open spaces offer a range of social benefits, contributing to a sense of community and safety with reduced levels of crime. Often underappreciated, they add economic value, such as boosting property prices and reducing energy costs. A study by McPherson et al (1994) found that a single tree could decrease annual heating costs by 1.3% and cooling costs by 7%. By increasing tree cover by 10%, McPherson saw a reduction of 5-10% total heating and cooling energy.

The ‘Making Space for Nature’ review by Lawton et al (2010) has raised both public and government awareness in the value of green space for both wildlife and well-being. The review set a number of guiding principles for government and made 24 recommendations, prompting councils to become more resourceful and environmentally friendly in their approach to habitat management, factoring in ‘more, bigger, better and joined up sites’.

One such recommendation was for local authorities to ensure their ecological networks were identified, restored and protected through effective local planning. It was stressed that this should be with support from government by clarifying that the local authorities had a biodiversity duty that includes planning coherent and resilient ecological networks (Lawton, 2010; Defra, 2011b). Another recommendation discussed the responsibility of authorities to reconnect people with nature. To be achieved by enhancing ecological networks within urban environments, including the adaptation of management plans to be wildlife-friendly.

The publication of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) came as a response to the Lawton Review. The framework stipulates that the planning system for local councils should contribute and enhance the natural and local environment (Department for Communities and Local Government, 2012). They provide a number of recommendations to achieve this, predominantly via sections 8 and 11. Such advisories include:

  •  Minimising impacts on biodiversity and providing net gains in biodiversity where possible;
  •  Planning policies should identify and map local ecological networks for biodiversity, wildlifecorridors and stepping stones that connect them for habitat restoration or creation;
  •  Identify suitable indicators for monitoring biodiversity whilst promoting preservation, restoration and recreation of priority habitats, ecological networks and the recovery of priority species;
  •  A strategic approach to the creation, protection, enhancement and management of green infrastructure and biodiversity networks should be set out by Local Planning Authorities (LPAs);
  •  Access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation to make an important contribution to the health and well-being of communities. The assessments should identify specific needs and quantitative or qualitative deficits or surpluses of open space;
  •  Safe and accessible developments, containing clear and legible pedestrian routes, and high quality public space, which encourage the active and continual use of public areas. Whilst enhancing public rights of way and access and networks;
  •  Local communities through local and neighbourhood plans should be able to identify for special protection green areas of particular importance to them, designating land as Local Green Space and ruling out new development;
  •  Protecting Green Belt land to prevent urban sprawl, assist in safeguarding the countryside from encroachment and assist in urban regeneration.

As a result of the NPPF, each council across the UK is required to create a strategy for their public open spaces, reassessing levels of funding and considering new requirements for open space provision.

1.6  Developing an open space strategy 

The Open Spaces Strategy developed by Gloucester City Council is a review of their 2001 strategy to work in-line with the recent government NPPF (Gloucester City Council, 2014). Gloucester is a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England. The vision of the Open Space Strategy is, ‘to create and manage a diverse network of good quality, sustainable and accessible open spaces to serve the needs and aspirations of the residents of Gloucester’ (Gloucester City Council, 2014). The strategy states a threefold purpose;

-  To provide a sound body of evidence for developing robust, sustainable open space policies within the proposed City Plan;
-  To provide a series of objectives with a co-ordinated action plan for council officers and partner organisations to work towards; and,
-  To provide city residents with a clear understanding of the city council’s open space aspirations and proposed programme of improvements, including opportunities for getting involved in shaping their local parks.

Gloucester currently has a total open space area of 521ha covering just over 12% of the city’s total land area. This includes 150 individual areas of public open space, with only 15% above 2 hectares in size (Gloucester City Council, 2014). The council has adopted a policy to provide a minimum of 2.8 hectares of open space per 1000 population. They are currently meeting this quota citywide, but it is not equally distributed throughout the individual wards (see distribution map in Appendix 3 and ward list in Appendix 4). They have identified a shortfall in six city wards:

-  Barton & Tredworth (0.24ha/1000)
-  Moreland (1.04ha/1000)
-  Quedgeley Severn Vale (1.08ha/1000)
-  Tuffley (1.19ha/1000)
-  Hucclecote (1.54ha/10)
-  Kingsholm & Wotton (1.74ha/1000). 

The council aims to increase capital spending to £200k over the 5 year strategy in order to achieve at least 3 Green Flag parks, promote open spaces to improve health and well-being as well as increase the amount of open space that are under a ‘wildlife management regime’ by 5 hectares. They have also outlined five key attributes of all open spaces: accessibility; quality (for people and wildlife); multi-functionality primary purpose; and, quantity. Within this, each open space has been categorised for its primary purpose(s), including; (A) Parks and Gardens; (B) Informal Green Space; and, (C) Allotments (see full list and description in Appendox 5).

Prior to the launch of this most recent strategy, in 2011 Gloucester City Council undertook a cost cutting exercise by removing all bedding plants and subsequent management requirements throughout the city’s green spaces, replacing some areas with wildflower meadow seeds. This, combined with a reduction in the grass cutting regime, reduced annual costs by £4 million (BBC, 2011). By “finding a positive from a negative” this exercise has attracted wildlife to the city whilst saving money, also earning them the title of the first Bee Guardian City from The Bee Guardian Foundation (BBC, 2011; Gloucester Citizen, 2013). By 2012, the city had 10 verges planted by the council, with 2013 seeing a further 8 (Gloucester City Council, 2013). In 2015, a total of 28 sites exist across the city (see Appendix 6 for the urban meadow flower seed sites in Gloucester), as well as planting a range of bee friendly tree species.

These additional sites are not only a beneficial cost saving scheme for the council, but also provide essential patches of foraging ground for pollinators, they amplify the aesthetics of the city and subsequently elevate the well-being of residents. Often an overlooked commodity, research suggests these pockets of biodiversity and GI play a key role in property prices and therefore demand, in addition to boosting local health and well-being within the area (Forest Research, 2010).
Green spaces have a proven positive effect on local communities, therefore investment in GI has been put high on the agency for many European countries (Vandermeulen et al, 2011). The UK is lacking in its commitment by comparison. It is therefore necessary to provide easy and repeatable methods of evaluating green space and infrastructure potential in order for investment to succeed. Simple geographic information systems (GIS) can support urban strategies by providing a visual representation of an urban environment, combined with the ability to manipulate, analyse and present spatial and geographic data (Harvey, 2008). Local councils and environmental organisations can utilise the information easily for impact evaluation. In particular, on new development proposals, urban regeneration projects and protection from adverse environmental risks, such as flood defences.
 

2.  AIMS

Due to the huge abundance of differing land uses within our cities and priorities focused on growth and development, natural spaces are often an overlooked commodity. Yet, strong evidence suggests significant benefits exist when investing in green infrastructure (GI) and the environment, being intrinsically linked to economic growth as well as human health and well-being. In order to build increased awareness and attention to the importance of our natural spaces within the urban context, this study will combine the benefits to both people and pollinators – giving wildlife a stronger political voice by being led by the profits to human well-being.

The research paper will highlight the current state of green space accessibility and connectivity across Gloucester for the benefit of both well-being and pollinator foraging needs. Culminating in an easily interpretable set of cartographic results that can contribute and influence the city’s ‘Open Spaces Strategy 2014 – 2019’. The primary focus will be providing support to the objectives of promoting open spaces as places to sustain and improve health and well-being, increasing the amount of open space under a wildlife management regime, and identifying areas that are in great need of investment. Delivering a citywide campaign for both access to nature and spaces for nature.
 

3.  METHODOLOGY

The study was conducted in Gloucester, a city, district and county town of Gloucestershire in the South West region of England, UK. The city was split into its subsequent fifteen wards and all City Council owned and managed parks and open spaces were surveyed and categorised, totalling 521 hectares (Figure 1). Additional wildflower sites seeded by Gloucester City Council were also considered within this study. There are other open spaces that exist across the city that may be privately owned or are segments of trees or grass verges, these have not been considered within this study due to time, access and feasibility restrictions. Data has been used to evaluate societal access to natural green space for health and well- being, as well as the connectivity of the city for pollinators.
 

3.1 Health and well-being

Initial analysis was conducted on all open spaces across the city (as described above) to determine the following:

-  Percentage of open space type as categorised by the council (see category names and definitions in Appendix 5)
-  Percentage of proxy level categories of naturalness according to ANGSt (see proxy level list in Appendix 2)
-  Population of each ward by the percentage of open space (see ward list in Appendix 4).

In depth evaluation of all Gloucester City Council open space sites were conducted using the mapping platform, ArcGIS. Original map data were provided by Gloucester City Council from their Open Space Strategy 2014 – 2019 (Gloucester City Council, 2014), as well as utilising layers provided by GCER and the map database Digimap. Layers were created to provide a base map, identify all fifteen ward boundaries and indicate all open space sites across the city and within each ward. ArcGIS was utilised for all cartographic outputs and map analysis.

Any open space site that was not deemed as ‘green’ was removed from the dataset – this primarily included civic spaces and other majority-paved infrastructure. All remaining ‘greenspaces’ were filtered by size, removing those under 2 hectares, as they do not meet ANGSt recommendations which states, “everyone, wherever they live, should have accessible natural greenspace of at least 2 hectares in size, no more than 300 metres (5 minute walk) from home” (Thompson, 2010).

Subsequent remaining sites were utilised to create a buffer zone of 300 metres, identifying all buildings that meet the Natural England ANGSt recommendations of being within 300 metres of a natural green space. Further zones were created to highlight natural greenspace deficiencies – those buildings between 300 and 500 metres away, those up to 1000 metres away and those up to 2000 metres away from an area of green space.

Figure 1. The study region and sites across Gloucester, South West England. Sites are public open spaces, as owned or managed by Gloucester City Council. There are other open spaces that exist across the city that may be privately owned or are segments of trees or grass verges, these have not been considered within this study.

 

Cartographic outputs enable quick identification of deficiencies and therefore priority zones across each ward requiring green space implementation. Buffer zones were created across the entire city with each ward clipped from it to avoid any ‘edge effect’ at ward boundaries.

3.2  Foraging Distance

Gloucester has two main nature reserves within its borders, Alney Island and Robinswood Hill (Figure 1). These were both evaluated for their pollinator ‘reach’ across the city and then compared with the supporting connectivity of allotments, considered high quality habitat, and the temporary wildflower seeded sites, as ‘feeding stations’. All stages of habitat type assessment were zoned within ArcGIS using known foraging bee flight distances. Foraging distribution is difficult to determine so we assume a homogeneous landscape and do not take into consideration obstacles such as buildings, traffic and other risks and hazards to bee flight.
The first distance for the GIS buffer zones was set at 125 metres, the critical range determined by Rands and Whitney (2011), considering species that only forage within a very short distance from their nests (e.g. Andrena hattorfiana, Hylaeus punctulatissimus). The next was 300m to meet the average solitary bee foraging distance, suggested by Rands and Whitney (2011). 500m was taken to be the average foraging distances of Bombus terrestris, Bombus lapidarius and Bombus muscorum by Walther-Hellwig and Frank (2000). Orsini et al (2014) found 750m to be the lower range of flight foraging distance for the most common bees and 1500m the upper range (also considering 1000m). As the honey bee, Apis mellifera, can travel more than 9km from the hive, anything beyond 2000m was not taken into consideration (Beekman and Ratnieks, 2000).
All cartographic outputs were combined (nature reserves, allotments and wildflower seeded sites) to identify the full coverage of foraging habitat across the city from allotments and the nature reserves, supported by the network of wildflower seeded sites. Priority zones have been indicated where consideration should be taken by Gloucester City Council for new seeded or permanent flower-rich foraging sites to optimise coverage across the city.
 

3.3  Patch Connectedness

Statistical analysis has been applied to determine site ‘connectedness’ across the city and support the cartographic outputs. Connectedness is the value given to the relationship between two green spaces or patches. The same pollinator foraging distances have been considered, as above, along with the distances measured between each patch using digital Euclidean measurements in ArcGIS.

For patch connectivity, elements of the analysis conducted by Vos et al (2001) and Johnston (2004) were utilised, where Csi is the connectivity of a species s in a patch i. Each element Csi is the probability of foraging to patch i from patch j. Foraging probability was assumed to decline exponentially with distance 

Ci = exp(-K dj) where dj is the inter-patch nearest distance and 1/K is the average foraging distance (described in section 3.2). Elements of the matrix C were performed where Aj is the area of patch j.
The patch connectedness equation was executed for each site considered within the foraging distance analysis. Connectedness values were then combined and the mean of each distance was calculated to generate the overall connectedness of sites across the city.
 

3.4 People and pollinators

Citywide cartographic outputs for the ANGSt recommendations (3.1) and combined foraging distance outputs (3.2) were merged to indicate a two-tier high-priority zone across the city for green space implementation, having the potential to support both people and pollinator connectivity objectives.

 

4.  RESULTS

4.1 Health and well-being

The percentage of open space was calculated by type as categorised by Gloucester City Council (2014). Figure 2 shows the four dominant open space types as, Countryside & Natural Spaces at 38.29%, consisting of primarily the two largest nature reserves of Alney Island and Robinswood Hill; Informal Green Space at 36.74%, which consists of open space with mainly unstructured planting, large grass areas, some paths and seating; Sports Provision at 29.97%; and, Spaces for Children & Young People standing at 20.77%. Allotments only currently occupy 3.25% of all open space provided by the council.

Figure 2. The percentage of each open space type owned or managed by Gloucester City Council. *note % cover will be more than 100% as individual sites may support more than one open space type.

 

When observing the same land types as forms of ‘natural’ green space, the percentage allocation across Gloucester was ascertained in Figure 3, employing the ANGSt recommended proxy level categories (Appendix 2). Figure 3 shows a comparatively even split of proxy level habitat type across the city for levels 1, 2 and 3, with level 4 seeing minimal proportion as it constitutes only improved farmland.

Figure 3. Proxy levels of naturalness and their representative percentage across Gloucester, according to ANGSt, as a method of reducing room for a wide interpretation of what is ‘natural space’.

 

Open space in any given area is only relative given the population number it is serving, therefore, the population of each ward has been summarised against the percentage of open space in Figure 4. Barton & Tredworth show the most significant difference, with the highest population number across all wards and the lowest open space provision. Both Matson & Robinswood and Westgate wards have relatively high percentages of open space compared with the population due to the inclusion of the nature reserves within their boundaries.

A cartographic output has been created for Gloucester City (Figure 5) and each of the containing wards (Figure 6 to Figure 20) to highlight deficient zones of accessible natural green space. Red zones are between 500 metres and 1 kilometre away from a green space area and therefore a recommended priority area for the council to target within their open space strategy.

When evaluating each ward, it is evident by the cartographic outputs that Barton & Tredworth has the highest levels of natural space deficiency (Figure 8). According to Gloucester City Council, the ward currently falls seriously short of their own proposed standards by 60-100%, of having 2.8 ha / 1000 population (Appendix 3). This ward is therefore the highest priority for green space implementation, with the output identifying the most deprived areas to target for maximum impact. Other wards with large areas of green space deprivation include Kingsholm & Wotton (Figure 12) and Hucclecote (Figure 11).

Both Westgate and Kingsholm & Wotton (Figure 12) share an area of high priority. This would require a common strategy to maximise placement of new green space in the heart of the city, with a focus around the Gloucester train station. Kingsholm & Wotton have an area of green space central to their deprivation zone on Serbert Street, but this only occupies 1.13ha, therefore not considered within the study. There is also sports field associated with the CACSSA for Civil Servants, not owned by the council, which could have a big impact on green space provision within the ward. However, this site is now owned by Redrow Homes so is likely to see development proposals put forward in the coming years. Ensuring public green space is encouraged within plans would be critical in connecting the ward.

A high proportion of the highlighted zones of green space deprivation are in fact commercial or industrial, rather than residential, therefore not being of high concern for accessible green space. One such example is Quedgeley Fieldcourt. Centred in the matrix of 1000m away from green space provision is the Tesco Extra superstore. This is also the case for Podsmead  and Moreland running along the Bristol Road. With Hucclecote (Figure 11), looking at the commercial/industrial area of Barnett Way in bordering Barnwood (Figure 7) could help support the large area lacking green space provision. The centre of this northern zone in Hucclecote is an area of green space owned by Hillview Primary School. In the central-east of the ward there is another area of high priority which could be mitigated by connecting and enhancing the Appleton Way green space and M5 Buffer Zone. Combined, they currently sit at 1.88 hectares in size, just too low for ANGSt recommendations, but could be a target to attempt to enhance green space along the Wotton Brook.

Within Longlevens (Figure 13), the centre of the red priority zone is a green space called ‘The Triangle’, yet this was removed from the study as it is only 0.55ha in size, therefore not meeting ANGSt recommendations. This zone also spreads over the boundary to Elmbridge Ward (Figure 9), where a combined strategy to increase the amount of space could be considered.
 

4.2 Foraging Distances

Cartographic outputs displayed in Figure 14 to Figure 16, show the varying connectivity of the three different habitat types considered across Gloucester – nature reserves, allotments and wildflower seeded sites. These zones show Euclidean flight distances without consideration for landscape form or structure.
Figure 14 indicates population isolation at the two separate nature reserves for those species with the capacity to only forage up to a maximum of 1000m. Population interaction could exist between the two sites for those with greater flight distances in excess of 1500m, typically the honey bee, Apis mellifera. There are also significant parts of the city where populations considered within the study could not reach without any other form of habitat patch to support their dispersal.
Allotment connectivity is higher than that of the nature reserves, as the smaller, more numerous patches support greater movement between the sites. This reduces the level of population isolation and therefore has the potential to support a higher number of different pollinator species (Figure 15. However, whilst the wildflower seeded sites are only temporary habitat patches, they have the capability to play a critical role in the foraging network for a greater number of bee species, shown in Figure 14 beyond that of both nature reserves and the allotments.
When combining the network connections of all site types considered, there is a high level of quality habitat coverage across the city that can support the most common bee species. Yet there remains an obvious divide across the city, from the Southwest to the Northeast, which only supports species able to travel over 750m from nest site to forage. Subsequently, the south of this divide seems to show a stronger connectivity with the potential to support a network of solitary bee species.

4.3 Patch Connectedness

When looking at the patch connections across the city in more detail, it can be determined how well individual sites are connected in conjunction with each other site, as well as gain an overall connectedness of the city. Connectedness is higher the larger the foraging distance and the larger the patches and lower for smaller foraging distances and smaller area patches.
The research represents connectedness of all wildflower seeded sites across Gloucester. Westgate Triangle shows the most significant output as its location is situated in the centre of the large nature reserve, Alney Island. Thus, its connectedness is very high for all species foraging distances. For the allotments, Estcourt Park supports the highest level of connectedness of all foraging distances.
Alney Island nature reserve has a significantly better connectedness value for the 125m foraging distance than Robinswood Hill, thought to be purely due to the abnormal overlay of the Westgate Triangle wildflower seeded patch, allowing it to support those shorter foraging species. Despite their size, the two nature reserves, are not well connected, with the lowest connectedness of all three habitat groups when compared against one another (Figure 66). The highest connectedness values are displayed by the wildflower seeded sites in Figure 64. The three separately combined habitat sets of connectedness values found in Figure 64, Figure 65 and Figure 66, support the GIS cartographic outputs of Figure 14, Figure 15 and Figure 16.
 

4.4 People and pollinators

A GIS cartographic output merging the final result of the ANGSt recommendations analysis and the pollinator foraging analysis can be seen in Figure 68. This map highlights a dual priority zone across Gloucester, zone 1 exceeding 1000m from natural spaces and habitat patches and zone 2 at a distance between 500m and 1000m. These areas should set precedence for green space implementation that will strongly benefit both objectives for health and well-being and pollinator habitat connectivity.
 

 

4.5 GIS cartographic outputs for ANGSt

Figure 5. Gloucester City Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

 

Figure 6. Abbey Ward Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

Figure 7. Barnwood Ward Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

Figure 8. Barton & Tredworth Ward Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

 

Figure 9. Elmbridge Ward Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

Figure 10. Grange Ward Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

Figure 11. Hucclecote Ward Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

 

Figure 12. Kingsholm & Wotton Ward Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

 

 

Figure 13. Longlevens Ward Accessible Natural Greenspace Standard (ANGSt)

 

 

 

4.6  GIS cartographic outputs for foraging distances

Figure 14. Zones of species foraging distances (m) from the two main nature reserves, Alney Island and Robinswood Hill, Gloucester.

Figure 15. Zones of species foraging distances (m) from all city council owned and/or managed allotments, Gloucester.

 

Figure 16. Zones of species foraging distances (m) from all city council initiated wildflower seeded sites across Gloucester.

Figure 17. Combined zones of species foraging distances (m) from all surveyed city council owned or managed habitat types

across the city of Gloucester - Nature reserves, allotments and wildflower seeded sites.

 

 

4.7. All patch connectedness 

 

 

 

 

 

4.8  GIS cartographic output for People and pollinators

Figure 18 . Combined priority zones for ANGSt and foraging habitat to suit needs of human well-being as well as pollinator habitat connectivity.
The zones are from a distance of 500m to 1000m (zone 2) and 1000m beyond (zone 1).

 

5.  DISCUSSION

There is considerable scope for green space implementation across Gloucester to meet the needs of both people and pollinators that can be driven by the city council. Utilising GIS cartographic outputs have allowed straightforward identification of areas with green space deprivation and can be included in strategic planning moving forward.
By evaluating landscape scale connectivity of the entire urban environment, the wider impact of green space provision within the city has been observed. Health and well-being across each ward is not limited to the green space contained within it, as physical boundaries do not exist for residents and therefore their local green space may, in fact, be within the adjoining ward. This would allow better, more strategic decisions to be made on the necessity of provision requirements, along with their precise location for maximum impact. It also enables documentation to be created that meets the aims of the NPPF, by identifying and mapping local ecological networks for biodiversity, wildlife corridors and stepping stones that connect them for habitat restoration or creation.

For those wards that have been too densely built or inappropriately planned, such as Barton & Tredworth, Kingsholm & Wotton, there is very little opportunity to create green space in order to deliver against Natural England ANGSt recommendations. Consideration could be given, however, to any unused roof space or underutilised trading estates, representing an opportunity for green infrastructure (GI) innovation. Rooftops can provide opportunities for green space by harnessing them for gardens and growing. Not only can green roofs boost health and well-being of local residents, they can produce food, increase biodiversity, control temperature and water run-off, filter polluted air and absorb noise (Orsini et al, 2014). Research in Bologna, Italy, saw that utilising unused flat roof space across the city could produce 77% of residents’ needs for vegetables (Orsini et al, 2014). Furthermore, this study highlights a distinct shortage of allotments available across the city, yet they have a significant impact on habitat connectivity and well-being. Considering green roofs could support the aims of a multitude of council objectives as well as many other forms of GI.

The cartographic output merging the final result of the ANGSt recommendations analysis and the pollinator foraging analysis highlights a dual priority zone across Gloucester as areas to prioritise for green space implementation. Action taken in these areas will strongly benefit both objectives for health and well-being and pollinator habitat connectivity. Bringing together two objectives into one strategy and outcome, saving time, space and money.

With Quedgeley Fieldcourt currently undergoing considerable development, these cartographic outputs will support housing decisions and ensure green space consideration is evaluated in a more extensive light. The percentage proportion of open space across the city indicates improvements that can be made within new development areas to ensure a balance of provision across the city, such as increasing allotment capacity. The outputs also have the ability to highlight the city wide impact of the green space being taken over by development, supporting claims either for, or against the proposals. Likewise, the size of the green space provided within development plans should be of at least 2 hectares or larger in order to maximise the impact on health and well-being among the community. A space smaller than this will not give an adequate sense of being in a ‘natural’ environment, reducing the impact of the space for people as well as pollinator foraging ground.

Further study on the ANGSt recommendations could look into neighbourhood social dimensions, exposing who has access to what kind of open space. This will then enable accurate identification, assessment and representation of open spaces that integrate social, cultural and built considerations. This could involve the use of census data as well as community surveys, applying statistical analysis to identify the most suitable and most needed forms of open space in an area. For developers, highlighting the value increase of properties built close to a place of green space provision could influence architectural plans and processes to accommodate more natural areas predicting a higher return on investment.

Although gardens have not been considered within this study, they are also crucial in building the bridge between people and nature. Numerous studies have looked into the impact of gardens on wildlife and well-being, but incentives to maintain a suitable garden environment need to be introduced by the local council or national government. These would prevent misuse by encouraging awareness, boosting ‘wildlife-friendly’ management and generating funds by introducing taxes for those that decide to turn gardens into a hardstanding.

As a type of open space may not be suitable for a certain community (or indeed required), a type of green space may not be suitable to all wildlife, hence designing landscapes for individual species may not be sufficient. This study solely considers a range of bees and their threshold flight distances, yet it accurately highlights the challenges different species, even within the same genus or family, can face across the same environment.
When looking at the overarching outcome of the connectedness analysis, the network is almost entirely linked for species with large foraging distances of 2km or more. However, this is not the case for species with small foraging distances. The figures indicate that the patch network is more sensitive to inter-patch distances than that of the area, especially for those with small foraging distances. Therefore, smaller, closer habitat patches could be more suitable to cater for population growth and dispersal.

The wildflower seeded sites have displayed the huge impact they can have on supporting a foraging network across the city. This is evidenced by the high connectedness seen within the wildflower habitat matrix and the cartographic outputs, when compared with the two very large nature reserves and high quality habitat of allotments. The B-lines campaign states that wildflower rich habitats are likely to have the greatest impact on pollinators for pollen and nectar (Buglife, 2015). This study presents strong recommendations for more seeded sites to be implemented by Gloucester City Council, with the map outputs providing the opportunity to identify high impact sites to maximise connectivity.

However, it is important to understand the complex matrix of an urban environment and try to complement habitats to ensure there are also areas for nesting, shelter and other life resources. These seeded sites are merely temporary, being mown at the end of the season and so may only support foraging activities during the peak summer flowering period. Areas accommodated as nesting or hibernation sites, for instance, could be destroyed by the mowing process. Therefore, these wildflower sites must only be seen as ‘feeding stations’ and not green spaces, complementing the permanent matrix that exists across the city (those over 2ha in size).

There are a number of limitations to the study, one of which is that the cartographic outputs highlight only the ‘best case scenario’, as only simple Euclidean distances and a homogenous landscape has been taken into consideration, ignoring the impact of landscape features.

Should the study be taken in further depth, landscape composition must be considered. For ANGSt, the 300 metre distance could be substantially longer if there is not a direct route of access from the home. Pollinator foraging distance would also be impacted due to buildings, roads and other natural or built obstacles. To gauge this impact, a form of viewshed or cost-distance analysis could be conducted, taking into consideration building obstructions and their height. Viewshed analysis is a common GIS function where elevation values of each cell determine the visibility to or from a particular cell. This could indicate just how extreme the barrier buildings create to bee navigation. Ultimately, these limitations would result in further green space provision requirements to obtain connectivity throughout the city.

It should be noted that this study has only considered the public open space owned and/or managed by Gloucester City Council within the city boundary, not any privately owned space, such as gardens or school playing fields. There are many other plots which can be freely utilised by pollinators, but are not open to the general public. These are very likely to contribute to the network connectedness across the city for wildlife, but not well-being through the ANGSt recommendations as they are not all freely accessible.

Furthermore, the study fails to consider green space quality. Be that down to management, neglect or misuse, to the suitability of the habitat for all behavioural and life stages of pollinators. Research by Kuo et al (1998) suggested overgrown and unmanaged green spaces can create a negative impact, crafting anxiety caused by fear of crime. They can also limit habitat suitability for wildlife, making them unwelcome places for all. By surveying each site and grading it for its quality for both pollinators and people it could provide a range of actions and objectives for the council to enhance the current open space network.

This study has provided a robust body of evidence for further developing a sustainable open space strategy within the city, setting target areas and providing goals for a programme of improvements. The outcomes support the objectives of promoting open spaces as places to sustain and improve health and well-being, increasing the amount of open space under a wildlife management regime, and identifying areas that are in great need of investment. Delivering a citywide campaign for both access to nature and spaces for nature.

There are mutualistic benefits to be obtained by people and wildlife when considering, creating or increasing the quality and quantity of green space in urban environments. By applying a combination of methods to investigate the natural potential of our complex urban environments, we can begin to harness the full potential of underappreciated spaces, becoming drivers of change, providing an enhanced living environment for both people and wildlife.

 

 

APPENDIX
 

Appendix 1. Key Aspects of Urban Design (Dougland and James, 2015):

Places for people: For places to be well used and well loved, they must be safe, comfortable, varied and attractive. They also need to be distinctive, and offer variety, choice and fun. Vibrant places offer opportunities for meeting people, playing in the street and watching the world go by.

Enrich the existing: New development should enrich the qualities of existing urban places. This means encouraging a distinctive response that arises from and complements its setting. This applies at every scale - the region, the city, the town, the neighbourhood and the street.

Make connections: Places need to be easy to get to and be integrated physically and visually with their surroundings. This requires attention to how to get around by foot, bicycle, public transport and the car - and in that order.

Work with the landscape: Places that strike a balance between the natural and people-made environment and utilize each site’s intrinsic resource - the climate, landform, landscape and ecology - to maximise energy conservation and amenity.

Mix uses and forms: Stimulating, enjoyable and convenient places, meet a variety of demands from the widest range of users, amenities and social groups. They also weave together different building forms, uses, tenures and densities.

Manage the investment: For projects to be developable and well cared for, they must first be economically viable, well managed and maintained. This means understanding the market considerations of developers, ensuring long-term commitment for the community and the local authority, defining appropriate delivery mechanisms and seeing this as part of the design process.

Design for change: New development needs to be flexible enough to respond to future changes in use, lifestyle and demography. This means designing for energy and resource efficiency, creating approaches to transportation, traffic management and parking.

 

Appendix 2. A proxy measure when mapping naturalness (Thompson, 2010):

A PROXY MEASURE WHEN MAPPING NATURALNESS

The definition of natural space within ANGSt is “places where human control and activities are not intensive, so that a feeling of naturalness is allowed to predominate”. In order to reduce the room for wide interpretation, research by Aleksandra Kazmierczak of Salford University used land use categorisation as a proxy measure for naturalness, creating a four stage rating:

LEVEL 1

  •  Nature conservation areas, including SSSIs
  •  Local sites (including local wildlife sites, RIGs)
  •  LNRs
  •  NNRs
  •  Woodland
  •  Remnant countryside (within urban and urban fringe areas)

LEVEL 2

  •  Formal and informal open space
  •  Unimproved farmland
  •  Rivers and canals
  •  Unimproved grassland
  •  Disused/derelict land, mosaics of formal and informal areas scrub etc.
  •  Country Parks
  •  Open access land

LEVEL 3

  •  Allotments
  •  Churchyards and cemeteries
  •  Formal recreation space

LEVEL 4

  •  Improved farmland.

 

Appendix 3. ‘Open Space Provision’ against the proposed standards of 2.8 hectares per 1000 population allocated by Gloucester City Council (2014)

 

Appendix 4. Gloucester City Electoral Wards (Gloucester City Council, 2014):

GLOUCESTER CITY ELECTORAL WARDS

  •  Abbey
  •  Barnwood
  •  Barton & Tredworth
  •  Elmbridge
  •  Grange
  •  Hucclecote
  •  Kingsholm & Wotton
  •  Longlevens
  •  Matson & Robinswood
  •  Moreland
  •  Podsmead
  •  Quedgeley Fieldcourt
  •  Quedgeley Severn Vale
  •  Tuffley
  •  Westgate

 

Appendix 5. Type of public open space defined by Gloucester City Council (Gloucester City Council, 2014)

A
Parks and Gardens
Sites formally laid out that have been designed primarily to provide aesthetic enjoyment.

B
Informal Green Space
Open space with mainly unstructured planting, large grass areas, some paths and seating.

C
Allotments
Areas of land for growing fruit, vegetables and other plants, either in individual allotments or as a community activity (not private gardens).

D
Countryside & Natural Spaces
Areas of undeveloped or previously developed land with residual natural habitats or which have been planted or colonised by vegetation and wildlife, including woodland and wetland areas.

E
Green Infrastructure
A planned network of multifunctional green-spaces and interconnecting links, which is designed, developed and managed to meet the environmental, social and economic needs of the community.

F
Civic Spaces
Formal spaces, including civic and market squares, other hard surfaced community areas designated for pedestrians.

G
Cemeteries
Cemeteries and churchyards including disused churchyards and other burial grounds.

H
Spaces for Children & Young People
Areas designated primarily for play and social interaction involving children and young people, usually associated with housing areas.

I
Amenity Green Space
Most commonly (but not exclusively) in housing areas, includes informal recreation green spaces and village greens.

J
Sports Provision
Natural or artificial surfaces either publicly or privately owned used for sport and recreation, includes school playing fields.

 

Appendix 6. Urban meadow flower seed sites in Gloucester:

URBAN MEADOW FLOWER SEED SITES IN GLOUCESTER

Byron Avenue - Quedgeley Roundabout
Cole Avenue - Cheltenham Road
Longney Road - Heron Way 1
Slimbridge Road - Heron Way 2
Grange Road / Bybrook Road - Metz Way
Grange Road - Armscroft Park 1
Enborne Close - Armscroft Park 2
Bittern Avenue Commemorative Site - Bodium Avenue
Monk Meadow 1 - Blackbridge athletics track
Monk Meadow 2 - Gloucester Park Commemorative Bed
Clock Tower Park - Westgate Triangle - over causeway
Heron Way / Painswick Road - Eastern Avenue
Finlay Road - Seventh Avenue
Abbeymead Avenue / Kimberland Way - Baneberry Road Open Space

 


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