People who regularly visit their local greenspace are more likely to feel healthy, says a report published by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH), but less than half of Scots visit greenspace or the wider outdoors once a week or more.
The report's findings show that regular visitors to their local greenspace are more likely to rate their health as good. Also, those rating their health as good are more likely to meet the national guideline for physical activity within an outdoor environment. However over 50% of people reported not visiting any outdoors greenspace in the last week.
Greenspaces, such as parks, playing fields, allotments, woodlands and riverside walks, provide a range of economic, social and environmental functions that benefit both people and nature. The report highlights key findings from surveys conducted between 2004 and 2013 that relate to people’s Attitudes to greenspace in Scotland.
The survey results show that the majority of people in Scotland are aware of the benefits that these spaces can bring to their physical and mental well-being. However, a third of us do not do any outdoors physical activity.
The report shows that there is a widening gap between the expectations of what our urban greenspaces can be and what is actually provided in local communities.
John O’ Neil of SNH said: “Maintaining and improving the quality of our local greenspaces in our towns and cities is vital to ensuring that they are used and valued by people. Despite the good practice that exists in Scotland in planning and managing urban greenspace, the surveys tell us that a third of people think that the quality of their local greenspace has declined over the last five years, with people living in the most deprived areas likely to be the most dissatisfied.
“Ensuring that people have access to good quality greenspaces close to where they live is important. It can help encourage people to visit regularly and be more physically active. This will mean people are more likely to be both healthier and also happier about their local neighbourhood; all of which in turn contributes to improving people’s health and well-being across Scotland.”
The report makes recommendations on how to best develop policy and support targeted action to improve the quality of Scotland’s urban greenspaces, and thereby contribute more to people’s quality of life. SNH commends the report findings and will promote them to those developing policies and making decisions that affect local greenspaces.