Open fire pits present significant increased risks to our local parks and wildlife. Australia, the US, and Canada are all beginning to experience longer fire bans each season and even Park closures. This is seen as a necessary step in protecting our parks; and they are, of course, worth protecting. However, at the same time, it is important to increase the attractiveness of parks and recreation to the public, and improve visitor experiences, to ensure local communities stay strong and healthy.
Potential alternative solutions to fire bans are worth discussing. After all, exposure to nature makes people healthier, both physically and mentally. Parks provide the perfect playground for physical activity and a mental disconnect opportunity from everyday stress. Access to parks has been shown to increase the frequency of physical exercise (+25% observed increase in locals who exercise regularly) and better health, lowering incidence of obesity (which has recently peaked at 29% of the Canadian adult population) and other related issues. Nature also counters common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety. In 2011, only 15% of Canadians engaged in recommended levels of physical activity.
Not only are parks and recreation areas good for adults, they are also good for children, too. Exposure to nature has been shown to benefit early age development and is therapeutic for such disorders as ADHD. However, the benefits of parks do not just reach the individual, they impact entire communities.
Parks are a shared asset to be treasured and enjoyed together. Studies show that safer parks foster community and informal social contact among neighbors, forging a type of social capital: a sense of community ownership. Higher social capital promotes safety, with substantial decreases in juvenile delinquency and overall crime rates. Parks do so much for the individual and the community; they need to be protected.
Fire bans may provide a patch to the leak but, ultimately, they may discourage visitors who seek occasions for a family picnic outing and may not be equipped with a portable barbecue grill. So how can we promote park visit rates and at the same time guarantee the safety of nature, visitors and property while maintaining low maintenance costs. BBQ in the Park is an Australian manufacture of electric BBQ systems. Learn more about BBQ in the Park?s entry in the US & Canada, and the roll the company plans to plan in improving community wellbeing.