One of Cardiff’s major assets is its green infrastructure: the countryside on its doorstep; the river corridors around the Ely, Taff Nant Fawr and Rhymney; the city’s cycle-ways and recreational routes such as the Taff Trail and the biodiversity of its natural environment, including its designated sites.
Cardiff was awarded a record 10 green flags for its parks in 2016. 80% of respondents to the 2016 Ask Cardiff survey were satisfied with our parks and open spaces and three quarters of people use Cardiff’s parks and open spaces once a week during the summer months. Access to the outdoors is one of the key factors which citizens identify as contributing to their well-being (see the Cardiff Today section for more details).
Access to parks and green spaces significantly contribute to physical and mental health and well-being. Increased levels of physical activity help to increase peoples’ healthy lifespans and reduce incidents of chronic disease. Use of the natural environment also contributes to strong and cohesive communities by providing a space for interaction and engagement. However, greenspaces are not always located near to the people that would benefit from them most. The areas with the least access to greenspaces coincide with some of the areas which have the highest rates of all types of crime as well as poorer health outcomes.
Cardiff’s ‘blue space’ – its waterways, rivers and drainage, and Cardiff Bay – is also a huge asset to the city. That said the majority of water bodies in Cardiff can be considered artificial or heavily modified because of flood protection, urbanisation, land drainage (Gwent levels) and the alterations made in the development of Cardiff Bay. Pressures, including degraded habitat and pressure on water quality from sewage, combined sewer overflows, misconnections and industrial estates, must be managed as Cardiff grows.