Recent collaboration between Bangor University and the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH) has shown that most people want more nature like trees and wildflowers in their towns and cities. The team worked in partnership with Denbighshire County Council to assess the community’s perceptions of environmental changes happening in the coastal town of Rhyl in North Wales, and also conducted a survey of 1,866 people across the UK to gather their views about tree planting and establishing wildflower meadows. The results showed that 73% of people wanted more trees, and 75% wanted more wildflower meadows.
“We did not expect such a clear positive result. People are normally resistant to changes to their neighbourhood, and it is heartening to see that there is so much support for greenspace in cities and towns. Our results will help both councils and residents with better future design of local green spaces.”
Climate and Ecological Change Strategy
As part of its Climate and Ecological Change Strategy, Denbighshire County Council is delivering urban green infrastructure interventions including tree planting and establishing wildflower meadows. This Rhyl case study enabled the research teams to quantify and compare the benefits of two planned and four existing intervention schemes and calculate the values based on data for noise, carbon and air pollution.
Prof. Laurence Jones of UKCEH commented,
“Our models show the considerable benefits that trees and wildflowers provide. They reduce heat and noise, and give us cleaner air and more biodiversity. These scientific findings back up people’s intuition that more greenspace is better for all of us.”
Interviews with 28 residents of Rhyl revealed that:
• 96% of participants stated that trees and wildflower meadows mattered to them
• 82% of participants stated that it was important to spend time among trees
• 68% of participants stated that it was important to spend time among wildflower meadows
• Biodiversity benefits were important to 96% of respondents
• Health and wellbeing benefits were important to 100% of respondents
• Carbon storage benefits were important to 57% of respondents.
Reflecting on the project, Cllr Barry Mellor, Lead Member for Environment and Transport at Denbighshire County Council said, “We were pleased to be involved in this work. Results from both the national survey and the Rhyl data revealed the majority of people stated wildflower meadow creation and tree planting was important to them. The Council has been hugely encouraged by this study and the evidence around the benefits of these greenspaces for the community, as well as nature, as we look to review and progress our plans to tackle the climate and nature emergency across the county. We are currently reviewing the results with Bangor University and UKCEH and will be taking the information collated into consideration in planning future greenspace interventions.”
This work was supported by the UKRI-funded RECLAIM Network Plus grant (EP/W034034/1). The survey was completed in August 2023.