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How school students are investigating issues concerning urban green spaces

Green space

14 February 2020

The Engineering Exchange (EngEx) received a grant from the Natural Environment Research Council to engage with communities to look at the current state of green infrastructure in London and how it impacts citizens.

As a result, the EngEx developed two Nuffield Research Placements to support students in the first year of post-16 science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) courses, studying at a state-maintained school or college, to undertake research projects.

The first of the projects, titled ‘Soils for Urban Food Growing’, recognised that London has a strong culture of urban food growing and many individuals and communities who participate in existing allotment sites and gardens.

In some places London’s soils (like in many large cities) have been adversely affected by past activities, including through contamination. There are therefore challenges in knowing whether the history of a site has resulted in pollution which may be harmful to crops or people.

The project aimed to identify and collect information on urban soils, in order to understand the main challenges for community groups wishing to develop new sites as food growing spaces.

The second project, ‘Funding our Urban Green Spaces’, recognised that parks, trees, gardens and green spaces of all shapes and sizes are crucial in making cities more pleasant and enriching places to live, but they don’t come for free. Local councils and communities often struggle to find funding in order to protect and preserve these spaces and where funds can’t be found, parks may become degraded and unusable.

This project, therefore, aimed to identify and collect together examples of how green spaces in London have been funded, focusing particularly on creative and innovative funding arrangements for smaller community spaces. Both reports will feed into a community-oriented toolkit of resources being co-developed with Just Space

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