Who is heard about maintenance of Helsinki green spaces?

University of Helsinki

A survey on the carbon sequestration and diversity of green spaces in Helsinki has started recently. The study seeks to establish which inhabitants value the city’s green spaces. The survey can be taken at mpt.link/hiiliviisas

The researchers are using a survey to establish whether the inhabitants accept carbon sequestering as a goal of caring for green spaces in the city. The survey is open until 15th October, 2021. (Image: Mari Ariluoma)

If carbon sequestration or biodiversity are the main goals of the design, building, and maintenance of green spaces, which of the inhabitants will reap the benefits and who will lose out? If we favour meadows rather than lawns, for example, let wasteland become forest, or make the urban structure denser at the expense of green spaces, whose uses of the urban spaces are we promoting? These are some of the questions that the survey connected with the multi-disciplinary CO-CARBON project is trying to answer this autumn.

The questionnaire is open to all Helsinkians, regardless of age and home district. By replying to the survey, inhabitants can help researchers establish how the views on carbon sequestration in Helsinki green spaces relate to different ways of valuing and using the green spaces, and how these views and values may be related to various background factors of the inhabitants. The replies will also help to explain the pros and cons of design and maintenance of green spaces, to promote carbon sequestration, for example.

– The denser Helsinki becomes and the more its population grows, the greater the importance of its green spaces for the inhabitants’ various needs. With the help of design and landscaping, we can create green spaces that are increasingly favourable for carbon sequestration. At the same time, the values, wishes and expectations of the users have to be taken into consideration, says one of the researchers who have compiled the survey, Post-Doctoral Researcher Jussi Lampinen from the University of Helsinki.

The subject of the survey is topical, since the IPCC report in August contained a grave warning about the consequences of climate change. Along with cutting back carbon emissions, carbon dioxide must be bound more than ever into plants and soil. Many of the large cities, such as Helsinki, Tampere, and Turku, cite the carbon sinks of city parks as an important part of cutting back carbon emissions.

However, the attitudes and fairness aspects regarding carbon sequestration have so far gained less attention. We do not know whether the advantages and disadvantages of maintenance solutions promoting carbon sequestration are divided equally among inhabitants, for example. With the information gathered in the survey, we can ensure the social sustainability of green-space solutions.

The survey is part of the CO-CARBON project funded by the Strategic Research Council of the Academy of Finland. The project’s mission is to measure and model the carbon sequestration capacity of urban green spaces. New solutions for carbon-smart design, implementation, and maintenance of urban green spaces are developed within the project, not just on the basis of scientific research, but also in interaction with inhabitants, businesses, cities, and other interested parties.

The project is a collaboration between the University of Helsinki, Aalto University, the Finnish Meteorological Institute, Häme University of Applied Sciences, and the University of Copenhagen.

The survey mentioned in the press release is open until mid-October. It is available at mpt.link/hiiliviisas

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