Weaving land stewardship networks and multiplying citizen involvement
citizen involvement for sustainability
Contact with nature is essential for human well-being. In the case of cities, this contact is limited by the scarcity of parks and gardens, and the even scarcer urban gardens. It is a fact that the process of denaturalisation implied by our development system results in a lack of knowledge and direct relations with the natural world, which becomes more acute in cities.
Urban gardens and allotments are a strategic instrument with great short- and long-term benefits for the health and well-being of people, the urban environment and its ecosystems, as well as for mitigating the impending climate crisis. For example, they generate a reduction in air pollution, noise and stress; increase visual beauty; constitute healthy spaces for recreation and interaction; educate about the importance of natural and environmental values; improve the mental and physical health of citizens; and foster solidarity networks among neighbours. In the case of urban gardens, they also contribute to food security.
"No home should be more than four minutes from a green space", say experts in England. We cannot say that this is true for many residents of our municipalities in the Canary archipelago.
Although the need has been translated into cases of citizen mobilisation, in which various groups of people have generated small self-managed green spaces in different parts of our urban centres, and although there is great human potential and a great deal of motivation, the necessary technical, material, training and infrastructure resources are not available.
Indeed, citizens' initiatives of land stewardship for urban greening are increasing in number in the Canary Islands. However, this movement still lacks an umbrella or coordinating body.