Parks for people, places and the planet
Green spaces are good – in advance of COP26 local authorities are seeking to enhance biodiversity, build environmental resilience, and work towards net carbon zero. And our urban parks can be part of local climate change mitigation whilst also contributing positively to several other policy areas. Throughout the pandemic parks supported our health and mental wellbeing; and can be a tangible demonstration of levelling-up left behind places and neighbourhoods.
Our precious parks are not a statutory service, yet they are highly valued by local residents. We know that frequent park use equates to a cost saving to the NHS of £111m each year1. But access to green space varies signiĤcantly across Britain. Around 2.78 million people live further than a ten-minute walk from their nearest park or green space and seven out of eleven British regions fall below minimum recommended provision2. At the same time parks and green spaces continue to be lost to building development.
To provide clarity in a complex area Fields in Trust’s annual Green Space Index data analyses equity of provision and access to green space. Placemaking-centred policy recognises the role of parks in creating inclusive and desirable communities, but interventions are needed to support local leaders to strengthen and legally protect these valuable assets. After consulting our Green Space Index data, Liverpool City Council committed to futureproof one hundred green spaces in the city; protected for future generations. The City of Edinburgh Council has also committed to protect and other cities are following. This cost-eģective model could be adopted in many other areas to help level-up inequalities, ensure lasting beneĤts for nature and create climate positive places.
Fields in Trust can support legislators and policymakers with data to review constituency performance against a GB standard and identify where protection of green space would have the greatest impact for local communities and a lasting beneĤt for the environment.
For play, for sport, and the enjoyment of nature, local green spaces are vital community infrastructure tackling climate change, addressing health, social and economic inequalities. Multifunctional green spaces delivering multiple advantages – forever.