Being able to walk in nature-filled green spaces, whether in towns, cities or the countryside, makes people happier and healthier. But the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted that access to nature is unequal, and our report, The grass isn’t greener for everyone: why access to green space matters, uncovers the sharp disparity between those who have easy access to green space and those who don’t.
For many, walking provided a much-needed sense of freedom following the COVID-19 outbreak, helping us to stay healthy and boost our wellbeing during difficult times. During lockdown, more of us than ever hit weekly targets for physical activity, with walking being the most popular form of physical activity – and we intend to keep it up. In fact, our research indicates that we plan to walk more in future than we did before the pandemic, whether it’s to get from A to B, to socialise, for fun or to boost our health and wellbeing.
However, we did not experience lockdown equally. Evidence has long-shown that poor access to green space is bad for our health – physically and mentally – and that it widens the gap in health outcomes between the richest and poorest in society. But COVID-19 brought the personal cost into sharp focus. The value of being able to go for a walk, connect with nature and de-stress hit home. Access to green space meant having somewhere to take the kids, exercise, hear the birds and feel part of the local community.
The key findings from our report are that:
Read the full report >
It’s time for change.
We believe that everyone, everywhere should have easy access to high quality green space close to where they live (defined as within a five-minute walk from home). The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important that is to our health and happiness and how urgently we need to address gaps in access to green space. The Environment Bill, currently in parliament, is an opportunity to make this happen. The Bill will require government to set targets that help to protect the environment and restore nature. But it misses an opportunity when it comes to reconnecting people to nature.
We’re calling on government to guarantee that no one lives more than five minutes’ walk from green space, by requiring national targets for access to nature under the Environment Bill.
Ask your MP to support the Ramblers’ call for the Bill to require a national target that guarantees no one lives more than a five minute walk from green space.