A green scheme to map the make-up of Mancunians’ gardens could improve the city’s air quality, flood risk and urban heat island.
Gardens currently make up 20% of Manchester’s land so researchers are mapping what they are made of – grass, trees, hard surfaces and so on – through a crowd-sourcing initiative to turn residents into citizen scientists.
Data collected from the My Back Yard survey will provide insight into the gardens across the city alongside information collected via high-resolution satellite images.
The findings will identify where there is less greenery in gardens to inform planning and investment decisions on green space within these neighbourhoods. The aim is to boost wellbeing, particularly in areas of Manchester where there is less green space in domestic gardens.
The project invites residents to complete an online survey on their garden. The anonymised data is then available to view, broken down by electoral wards to illustrate the difference in greenery across Manchester’s gardens.
Geographer Dr Gina Cavan, lead researcher, from Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “Green spaces are proven to provide a host of benefits to residents, either from their garden or nearby parks. It also supports our environment: helping to cool the city, improve air and water quality, reduce flooding, support wildlife and provide a setting for recreation. Gardens are so important in the city because they make up around 20% of the total land.
“We are already seeing wide variations from across Manchester in the amount of greenery available in gardens. So the data collected from this survey will help us to identify which neighbourhoods are most in need of extra trees or new parks, for example.
“It only takes 10 minutes to complete – the more residents get involved, the more we will know.”
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The survey is already providing an insight into the city’s gardens. Current findings show how many gardens in each ward are green spaces or hard surfaces, the number of different plants, common uses of gardens and popular garden schemes. See here for the current overview: mybackyard.org.uk/results.php.
The project is being led by Manchester Metropolitan University with the University of Leicester, in collaboration with The Mersey Forest, Manchester City Council, City of Trees, Southway Housing Trust and Lancashire Wildlife Trust. It is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council.
To complete the survey and be entered into a prize draw to win £500 shopping vouchers, log on to mybackyard.org.uk. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The survey is open until the end of December 2016.