While the COVID-19 pandemic has radically changed our way of life due to confinement, at the same time it is revealing a new relationship between humans and nature under a different light. By restricting movement to the maximum, green spaces and urban forests have become vital to improving our physical and mental well-being, proving that people of all ages and conditions are clinging to them like a veritable lifeboat to keep going forward.
To date, many studies have been conducted that show the potential of trees in particular to improve our lives as individuals and societies. Long before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the many services that our natural ecosystems provide to society (regulating temperature, filtering air pollution, providing shade, maintaining soil health, sequestering carbon, improving the aesthetics of cities, among many other benefits) had already been demonstrated.
In this context, the Clearing House project, coordinated by the European Forest Institute and the Research Institute of Forestry Chinese Academy of Forestry (CAF-RIF), has recently developed a survey that aims to collect information on how citizens’ attitudes towards nature in different cities worldwide are changing during these difficult times of quarantine and lockdown.
Through this survey, the project researchers want to find answers to a series of questions to better understand the importance that urban forests and green spaces are having in these times of coronavirus pandemic: How are citizens’ attitudes towards green spaces and urban forests changing during these difficult times? What is the benefit of urban forests and green spaces in our cities during the pandemic? What role will they play afterwards? Will people’s behaviour change in the long term?
The Clearing House project will therefore seek answers to analyse what can be done in the future, in terms of reconstruction, where green spaces and urban forests will play a key role in the debate on which cities and societies we want. Even with all its drawbacks, which we still suffer from, the coronavirus has put on the social and political agenda a much needed discussion about our way of living and relating to nature. This is undoubtedly a very promising starting point.
About Clearing House
The Clearing House project addresses a global challenge that unites European and Chinese cities in their quest to develop more resilient cities and liveable societies in order to improve human wellbeing. Its main focus is on tree-based green infrastructure, which is the basis for “urban forests as nature-based solutions”. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program under Grant Agreement 821242.