Three quarters of Scots want more green space in wake of lockdown

September 1, 2020

Three quarters of Scots want more green space in wake of lockdown

THREE in four Scots say there should be more green space available across Scotland – in a study that shows that the nation has appreciated access to wildlife during lockdown.

It follows increasing evidence and recognition of the positive benefits during the pandemic of access to good quality green spaces for positive physical and mental health.

Now a new survey of 1,250 commissioned by WWF Scotland, found a majority of people appreciated having access to green spaces and experiencing nature during lockdown, with 76% agreeing that green spaces had been important to them during lockdown and 70% saying they would like to have more green spaces near them. It comes after research found that during lockdown those living in more deprived areas had less access to gardens and green spaces.

It is estimated that one in eight households has no garden, making access to parks more important.

WWF Scotland said this figure is concerning as multiple studies have shown the benefits of nature to physical and mental wellbeing.

The conservation charity says their findings add more weight to a fresh post-Covid campaign to “transformative” actions that will help Scotland’s nature and “build a fairer future for all”.

Launched by a host of environmental charities including RSPB Scotland, Scottish Wildlife Trust and WWF Scotland, it highlights five areas for immediate action from the Scottish Government: restoring and protecting Scotland’s globally important peatlands; replacing and expanding native forests; improving deer management; creating a new system to support eco-friendly farming; and linking up wild places through a new Scottish Nature Network.

Other proposals include introducing new legislation to ensure all new development is net-positive for nature; establishing a Scottish inspectorate to tackle invasive non-native species and committing to at least a third of Scotland’s seas being highly protected.

Lang Banks, director at WWF Scotland said: “These findings make it clear that nature is a boost to people’s wellbeing and that the majority of people in Scotland really valued having the opportunity to get out into nature during lockdown.

“Sadly, we know that not everyone has access to greenspace, with people living in the most deprived areas less able to enjoy nature close to home. It’s in all our interests that everyone is afforded the chance to enjoy easy access to greenspaces and more nature.

“That’s why our recent Nature Recovery Plan, calls for a change to planning policy, ensuring that new developments enhance and make space for nature and that habitats across Scotland are better managed and better connected. We need the places we live and work to support our collective well-being where people and nature can thrive.”

With the current climate and biodiversity crises affecting species, habitats and landscapes here in Scotland and around the globe, the survey also found people in Scotland showed great concern for our natural world.

Almost three-quarters of those asked (74%) said the Scottish Government should take decisive action to tackle the nature and climate emergencies on a similar scale taken to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

A recent study by researchers at the University of Exeter found that spending time in the garden is linked to similar benefits for health and wellbeing as living in wealthy areas.

People with access to a private garden also had higher psychological wellbeing, and those with an outdoor space such as a yard were more likely to meet physical activity guidelines than those without access to outdoor space.

Britain’s parks and fields are also at significant risk of development, according to new research by the Fields in Trust charity.

It estimated that 2.7 million people currently lived more than a 10-minute walk away from a public park, and this figure could increase by a further 170,000 in the next five years.

The study, which coincides with Field in Trust’s annual green space index, suggests that the equivalent of 20,000 football pitches’ worth of green space could be lost in the next 20 years due to population growth.

Earlier research from Fields in Trust suggested that the wellbeing value associated with the frequent use of green spaces is worth more than £34 billion each year to the UK.

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Scotland is an environmental leader and the importance of green space is recognised in our policies from health to regeneration, early years to planning. Such spaces are important for people’s health and our towns and cities boast a wealth of them. Our urban areas are 54% greenspace and our planning policy promotes these spaces as part of successful place-making.

“We are also encouraging communities to get involved in the design, management and maintenance of greenspaces through our planning advice and funding for community regeneration.

“We are also investing in the quality of our greenspaces, including funding the Central Scotland Green Network, Through the CSGN Development Fund we have invested more than £7 million since 2010 in projects that are promoting active travel, woodland planting, community growing and restoring land for the Central Scotland Green Network.”

Article Link: The Herald

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