What is it?
Reduction of noise, wind and visual impacts comprises an ecosystem service that everyone encounters on daily basis. For example, trees act as a noise barrier along busy roads and railways. Also, green parks make a city visually more attractive.
Impacts are constantly all around us in modern society. In many cases we cause them ourselves. Ecosystem services greatly reduce the impacts and thus help improve our experience and appreciation of an area affected by an impact.
Different types of vegetation can reduce impacts and the nuisance they cause. Noise nuisance caused by traffic is reducible by putting up trees along busy roads. Wind nuisance caused by high buildings is reducible by planting shrubs or trees. Besides, the noise caused by whistling leaves is easier on the ear than noise driven by wind howling along the sides of high-rise buildings.
Green creates visually more pleasant surroundings for us. A view of parks or nature areas will be less burdensome than, say, a view of road traffic or wind turbines. We associate green views with peace and quiet and they have a positive effect on our health and well-being.
It is difficult to quantify the significance of reducing impacts, because it is about measuring the improvement in our sense of well-being. But we do know that reducing impacts has a calming effect and eases stress, thus increasing our appreciation of a particular place. In many cases this is directly translatable into house prices, and they are measurable.
Research has so markedly demonstrated the importance of green to our well-being, that hospitals and care institutions are being transformed into healing environments with an abundance of green visible in and around the buildings. The visual presence of green provides a more pleasant living environment for patients.
In real life
For an ecosystem to reduce the impacts that we experience, we need to look at green solutions. Green offers a way forward for tackling existing sources of nuisance and can also be factored into the design of new projects (including infrastructure and buildings).