Top of the class: AIPH proactively supports the schoolyard greening movement

Children that grow up in nature-rich environments have better mental and physical health, better social and cognitive skills, greater creativity, and achieve higher academic performance. A connection to nature encourages young people to respect and protect biodiversity and engage in actions to mitigate climate change. This is the essence of the Salzburg Statement for Greening School Grounds and Outdoor Learning.

The Salzburg Statement is a call to action to global leaders and practitioners to “ensure that all children and communities have access to green school grounds and outdoor learning.” The horticulture industry shares this responsibility, and has the satisfaction of being essential in delivering the outcomes. AIPH was represented by Dr Audrey Timm at an intensive workshop in Salzburg in November where a global, multidisciplinary group put together the foundations of a powerful, influential global movement. The intention of the global movement is twofold – to nurture a global shift in curriculum content and teaching methods that brings nature into everyday learning practice.

Secondly, the movement intends to develop and popularise the concept of green school grounds for the additional purpose of addressing climate change and loss of biodiversity in cities and engaging the wider community to support and use green school grounds. The ornamental horticulture industry is active in urban greening projects, contributing to design, plant production, implementation, and ongoing management and maintenance. With worldwide policy and lobbying targeting an increase in green space and tree canopy cover in cities, school grounds have been identified as potential sites for attention. It became clear in discussions within the SGS workshop that there is a need to understand the percentage of urban land cover that is taken up by school grounds.

The OASIS programme in Paris provides practical examples of ways in which school grounds can be redesigned to create cool islands both for the children and for shelter for the
community during excessive heatwaves. This programme was the winner of the Living Green for Social Cohesion category in the AIPH World Green City Awards 2022. Read the case study.

The Salzburg Statement is supported by the Children and Nature Network and has been translated into other languages. AIPH hopes to lead on a global project to research and collate current knowledge with the aim of developing a framework for design and use of green schoolgrounds that fulfils outdoor learning and play objectives and delivers climate resilience to engaged city communities.

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