Hello, Lebanon. It’s me, your friendly Green Patriot. Have you ever walked through Beirut and noticed that there is a profound lack of urban green space in our capital?  I’m sure you have. Take a look at Hamra:

 

Granted, we do have a few trees planted on the sidewalks, and they’re great! Still, we do need to think a bit more about urban green spaces. Only 1.8% of Beirut is considered to be urban green space. The recommended proportionality of urban green space in a healthy city is 40%.   

My fellow Lebanese, I think we’ve fallen behind.

Urban green space is incredibly important. Trees and plants planted in a city prevent soil erosion and absorb rainwater, thereby improving drainage. Think about how much the rain runs through our streets in the winter-time. This could really help! Besides, trees absorb pollutants. They also provide clean oxygen when they release it into the air. In addition, plants and trees have a cooling effect; they shade heat absorbing surfaces like asphalt and concrete.  Green spaces can also reduce noise pollution. In fact, a dense screen of trees and shrubs is a buffer between you and urban noise, such as horn-honking, drilling, and more. Lastly, green spaces also have a calming effect on people; they reduce anxiety, depression, and tension. Hmmm.

Looks like we could use some urban green space!

I’ve heard many suggestions about this, the most common being to destroy old, war-torn, and unoccupied buildings and to create public parks in their place. At first glance this idea seems like a good one,  and it does have its merits. Yet, it also has its problems; many of these old buildings are private property and thus, destroying them warrants permission from their owners, many of whom are unknown, dead, or not even in the country. Besides, destroying an old war-torn building could affect the occupants of the building stuck beside it.  I am sure that there solutions to these two particular problems (changes in property law and effective methods of destroying these buildings), but in any case, the creation of public parks will take some time to materialize. So what do we do?

Public parks are beautiful, and we’d all like to see more of them. However, waiting for these to come about will take quite some time. My fellow Lebanese, it’s time for us to be innovative. We can plant on our balconies, the sides of our buildings, on our rooftops, and our village yards. Let us take our own personal initiative. Don’t you like the idea of a greener, cleaner, and more beautiful living space? Do you want cleaner air, a quieter environment? They’re healthy, creative, and beautiful. They even cover up unpainted older buildings, making them far more beautiful. Check out what urban planting can do!

 

So let’s do it. Let us plant where we can and create a healthier, more sustainable city. Let’s give ourselves cleaner air and spare ourselves respiratory problems. Let’s give ourselves some peace and quiet. Let’s give ourselves a means of being calm and more relaxed. Let’s give ourselves a beautiful city of which we can be proud. Let us rejuvenate our city. We can do it, Lebanon!!!

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