Will COVID-19 make parks even less accessible?

www.nesta.org.uk/report/will-covid-19-make-parks-even-less-accessible/
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COVID-19 has woken us up to the value of our greenspaces and the role of nature in our recovery from this crisis. 76 per cent of people agreed that nature has been a source of comfort for them during the crisis, signaling the health benefits of access to greenspace, for which the evidence is now substantial.

Research released by Honest highlighted that:

  • 49 per cent of Brits said that daily life would be improved if they had access to greenspace,
  • 65 per cent said that being outdoors makes them happier.

RSPB found that in England, since COVID-19:

  • 4 out of 5 people (84 per cent ) support the suggestion that the Government should increase the number of accessible nature-rich areas in the UK,
  • 4 out of 5 people (80 per cent) oppose the idea of Government reducing spending on nature,
  • 3 out of 4 people (76 per cent) support the suggestion that nature could contribute to economic recovery in the UK.

The bottom line here is that we value our greenspaces, they make us happier and healthier, mentally, physically and ecologically. They play a critical role in preventative healthcare, mitigating climate change and in what some are calling the ‘green recovery’.

The C40 Mayors, a network of world’s megacities committed to addressing climate change, have pledged not to return to business as usual in their COVID-19 recovery plans, insisting on a green recovery. Their recently published Agenda for a Green and Just Recovery outlines the importance of giving public spaces back to people and nature.

rethinking parks - map

Image by West of England Nature Partnership. The dark red areas show areas in West of England where there’s the highest incidence of multiple deprivation.

However, access to greenspace is not shared equally in our society. Disadvantaged groups appear to gain a larger health benefit and have reduced socioeconomic-related inequalities in health when living in greener communities. Greenspace is therefore central to building a fairer society. Yet, in keeping with many of our systems, the people who need it the most have the least access to it. Why is that?

Authors

Joy Green

Joy has over ten years of specialist experience practicing futures at Forum for the Future.

Daniel Ford

Daniel is a Senior Strategist at Forum for the Future.