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The COVID-19 pandemic is proving what urban planners and park advocates have been saying all along: open, green spaces are good for cities and people.
Experts from the World Health Organization and Philippine doctors’ associations all attest to how pursuing activities outdoors is much safer than indoors because better air circulation reduces the likelihood of SARS-Cov-2 transmission and the space makes physical distancing easier.
Unfortunately for Metro Manila, the country’s coronavirus epicenter, it is critically lacking in publicly-accessible open space. According to the 2011 Green Cities Index, the megacity has only 5 square meters of such space per person when the WHO recommends at least 9 square meters. To make up for this gap, Filipino landscape designers say we need 52 square kilometers more of green open space – the size of Manila and Makati combined.
Urban planner Julia Nebrija talks to Rappler reporter Pia Ranada about how the government and city planners can create more green, open space even amid Metro Manila’s urban sprawl. Closing off streets to cars and transforming them into multi-use spaces, investing in existing parks to make them more accessible, and transforming underutilized spaces in even the poorest of urban slums can drastically improve quality of life and even spur economic activity.
Parks and green spaces can play a part in the “better normal,” that critical period when quarantine measures can be relaxed somewhat but a vaccine is yet to take effect among a significant portion of the population. – Rappler.com