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Urbanisation to transform green spaces – Pryce

Published:Saturday | June 3, 2023 | 1:16 AM
Raymond Pryce
Raymond Pryce

ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENTIST Raymond Pryce said more than three-quarters of the nation’s population will experience urban-like conditions in their living environment by 2030.

Delivering opening remarks at the Nature Preservation Foundation (NPF) Public Forum, held in commemoration of the Hope Royal Botanical Gardens 150th anniversary, on Wednesday, Pryce noted a change reflected in research findings.

“All available data and indicators suggest that by 2030, more than 70 per cent of Jamaicans will reside in urban spaces,” he said, “This also speaks to the fact that more of our rural areas will have been transformed into urbanised spaces, with the expansion of residential and commercial developments into areas previously reserved for agriculture.”

This he said, among other reasons, would result in more degradation of the natural environment.

INCREASED DEMAND

Pryce, who is also a former People’s National Party (PNP) member of Parliament (MP), said the expansion of “city living” would lead to increased demand for energy-saving technologies and the infrastructure needed to supply renewable energy sources.

Similar amounts of land that were formerly utilised for agriculture and other activities will be taken up by the construction of road networks, he said.

According to Pryce, increasing population pressures and climate-change issues would further degrade the quality of life of citizens by putting additional stress on the ecosystem.

“As a society we must be concerned,” he said of these issues.

The consequences of this, he said, could eventually result in less opportunities to access open spaces, spatial tiredness, a deterioration in general well-being, a decrease in physical activity, and a variety of opportunistic diseases or a worsening of pre-existing morbidities.

“In such a scenario, mental illness is also anticipated to become more widespread within urban populations. Many theorists and accepted research now show the psychological, physiological, economic, social, and health benefits for humans living close to and in regular contact with the natural environment,” he said.

“For many people, especially in an increasingly urbanised world, parks, botanical gardens and similar green spaces are often the only possible sources for families and individuals to maintain contact with any element of the natural world.”

asha.wilks@gleanerjm.com