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For instance, we are safer when rivers have more room during floods and floodwaters can disperse and slow down rather than rise, rage and threaten communities.Along our coasts, natural features like sand dunes and marshes or coral reefs and oyster reefs reduce wave heights, absorb storm surges and help stop erosion.Communities have choices in how they prepare for and respond to floods.Often overlooked is the role that nature and nature-based solutions can play alongside seawalls or dams and levees.Nature-based solutions use natural systems, mimic natural processes, or work in tandem with traditional approaches to address these specific hazards. population lives in counties where federally-declared, weather-related disasters have occurred since 2010.Communities across the country— along rivers or coasts, large or small, rural or urban— can incorporate nature-based solutions in local planning, zoning, regulations, and built projects to help reduce their exposure to flood and erosion impacts. Smart nature-based solutions provide multiple benefits, giving communities high returns on their investments in flood risk reduction strategies.Recent studies demonstrate that green spaces in urban areas may actually decrease violent and property crimes in neighborhoods.
Also important, tree canopies and urban green spaces have shown a significant cooling effect in cities, which reduces energy demands for air conditioning and lowers local emissions.
Beyond these more obvious benefits, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests contact with nature provides a multitude of health benefits.
Close proximity to natural areas provides a positive emotional experience that has been shown to speed up recovery time for hospitalized patients, motivate healthy behaviors like exercise, and improve or sustain mental health.
The percentage of green space within a two-mile radius of a person’s home has been associated with the percentage of residents reporting good health, particularly among homemakers, the elderly, and those with lower socioeconomic status—groups that are typically less likely to get sufficient physical activity.
One study found that residents living in areas with more green space were more than three times as likely to be physically active, and approximately 40% less likely to be overweight or obese, compared to those living in areas with less green space.
In a study in Philadelphia, vacant lots—which are often associated with illegal activity—were cleaned of trash and illegal dumping, planted with grass and trees, and had a small wooden fence built around the perimeter.