Eco-Health: Ecosystem Benefits of Green Space for Health

Within urban areas, public green space includes parks and reserves, sporting fields, riparian areas such as streams and riverbanks, greenways and trails, community gardens, street trees and nature conservation areas, as well as less conventional spaces such as green walls, green alleyways and cemeteries. Private green space includes private backyards, communal grounds of apartment buildings and corporate campuses.

Within the rural environment, green spaces may be more extensive, including greenways, blueways (e.g. river corridors, coastal paths), peatways, forests/woodlands and accessible trails (e.g. rights of way). Green spaces provide essential ecosystem services and are components of green infrastructure. There is a scientific consensus that green space provides benefits for enhancing health and well-being.

This EPA funded research project examined environment and health relationships through investigating the potential of green space as a health-promoting environment. The findings advance the perspective that accessible and well-designed green spaces are essential infrastructure, fundamental to the health and wellbeing of thriving and inclusive communities.

Key findings include:

  • Green spaces need to be accessible with cycle and pedestrian access
  • Green space networks that provide interconnected parks and urban and rural areas are preferable
  • They should aim to cater to all ages and provide multifunctional use (physical activity plus tranquillity and relaxation)

Recommendations include:

  1. Framing green spaces as a public health investment
  2. Enhance green space within Local Authority planning; audit what exists and how it might be developed for health promotion and well-being
  3. Co-design green spaces, mobilise local knowledge into local innovative solutions

It is worth noting that after the local public park (36% of respondents) the next most popular green space to visit was a canal walk or riverbank (20%) followed by the coast or beach (10%).

 

The report is accessible at:

Eco-Health: Ecosystem Benefits of Green Space for Health

 

 

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