Comments to the Nairobi Master Plan by the Friends: PUBLIC GREEN SPACE

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Based on City Park this information can be used for public green spaces throughout the city.  Here we suggest specific areas where the Master Plan can be bolder in addressing the real needs of the people.

(The full document is available for download (see below). This is the second of four posts, of excerpts from the document.)

SECTION II: PUBLIC GREEN SPACE SPECIFIC COMMENTARY

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The roles played by public green space for citizens of a city – Illustration by Michael Maina Karinga

…Current international research shows that one of the most attractive things about a city is its green spaces.  Not only do they enhance the quality of life of residents but also it enhances the likelihood of investment, the retention of workers and industry, the health of the population and the appeal for tourism and social events and small businesses.  Public green spaces throughout the city bring up concerns in the following areas:

SOCIAL EQUITY / ACCESS TO THE CITY:
There can be no sustainability without social equity.  This is not just environmental sustainability but political sustainability.  The fact that a fee of as little as Ksh 20 is a exorbitant economic burden for the majority of Nairobi residents means that keeping the remaining green spaces public, free and supported by the city is one of the most important investments in the future the city can make.  Our experience at City Park shows that it is most used by those people who have no other free access to green spaces where they live…

SYSTEMIC THINKING OF GREEN SPACE USE:
…People travel to City Park not just from the surrounding constituencies but from as far afield as Kasarani, Embakasi and Kibera. This means that when thinking the preservation and planning for green spaces the greater hinterland of the green space (like the equivalent of a water catchment area) must be taken into account.

GREEN CORRIDORS / GREEN BELTS:
Another issue of systemic thinking of green spaces is the provision of green belts that allow the multiple kinds of green spaces in the city to be connected.  The riverine and riparian areas provide perfect opportunities for this.  Not only would it include the protection of riparian areas but it would allow further sports uses of green space (longer distance running and hiking trails) and better conservation of the biodiversity already existing in any one site…

RIVERINE / RIPERIAN AREAS:
This includes the maintenance of riparian areas, the control of pollution and effluent and the reduction of plastic bags going into the rivers.

PUBLIC LANDS:
All green spaces are threatened by land grabs.  The master plan must speak to the perpetuity of green spaces and their increase rather than decrease.  Limiting public access through fees will actually increase the insecurity of the parks as it limits use.

FORESTS: Four public green spaces in the city are also biodiverse indigenous forest – Karura forest, Ololua forest and Ngong Road forest… City Park retains a remnant of evergreen forest, and hosts over a thousand plants and animal species.

CEMETERIES:
Cemeteries remain some of the green spaces in the cities and sites where loved ones are still visited.  They also hold historic importance (in the case of City Park with Murumbi and Pinto as well as veterans of the World Wars) as sites whose study and experience can give residents a sense of their city.

HISTORIC SITES:
The historic sites located in green spaces in Nairobi include the cemeteries, bandstands, gardens, park designs, trees, art collections, civic action, Mau Mau caves and the site of the declaration of independence.  The gardens and park designs are as historically important as the buildings.

BIODIVERSITY:
The parks within Nairobi lead to its unique characteristic as examples of indigenous biodiversity as well as planted gardens.  They conserve unique habitat and species.

BEAUTY:
All green spaces provide two kinds of beauty.  The feelings of peace and comfort that nature affords in a city of high activity and stress. And the beauty of a city with green spaces, the valuation of buildings nearby, residential areas nearby and businesses benefit from workers who can relax nearby to regain energy and inspiration to work.

HEALTH:
Green spaces are the city’s lungs.  Without them the problem of pollution, heat, deaths by asthma (already exorbitantly high in Nairobi), water contamination and air quality of Nairobi will be continuously problematic.

CULTURE:
Green spaces are extremely good venues for providing excitement about living in a city through entertainment, culture and education to all residents equally.

EDUCATION:
Green spaces in Nairobi provide hands on experience of nature, biodiversity, plant and animal species, which is an essential basis for a science education.  They can thus provide the foundations for building educated knowledgeable workforces of the future.

ECONOMY:
International research has shown that one of the most important criteria for investments in cities by new businesses is the existence of green spaces.  This is a huge attraction for businesses.

INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS:
The international standard for green spaces in cities is 12m per inhabitant.  At the moment Nairobi has LESS THAN 1M per inhabitant. Without an increase in green spaces we will not achieve international standards, and remain considerably less attractive.

RECREATION:
…Recreation is one of the features that make cities livable and attract families and income to the city.  The green spaces provide free recreation in multiple forms including biodiversity, playgrounds, hiking paths, tennis courts, soccer fields, bowling greens, hockey pitch, ponds, boating, picnic areas, swings, and educational information.

BY-LAWS:
All by-laws inconsistent with the master plan should be removed.  This would enable by-laws that affect the city’s green spaces to enhance the green spaces from the hinterlands of the parks.

Friends-of-City-Park-comments-on-Masterplan-2014-04-01.pdf (488 downloads)
Friends of City Park comments to Nairobi Master Plan, following consultation with GIBB International on 31 March 2014

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