While traveling in Colorado this week I met with Louise Turner Chawla, a professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, in the Environmental Design Department. Chawla has been at the forefront of the research around the importance of connecting to nature particularly in urban areas as a health benefit. Gardens trees, biodiversity, streams, playgrounds all play an important role in our health. These features also benefit the environment by reducing greenhouse gases and filtering water and other pollutants.
As we discussed these aspects it became evident that there needs to be more integration between urban planners and health officials in the design and implementation of landscapes in our towns and cities. Often these professionals do not share ideas at the initial design and development phases of landscape projects in our urban environments. It is encouraging to hear that as interdisciplinary studies expand in colleges and universities, more students and educators are beginning to see the value of integrating landscaping, with health, psychology and other related fields. It's terrific to see the cross-pollination between these different fields of study. Now it's time to move from the classroom to implementing this integrated approach as part of the standard practices in urban design and landscaping projects.