SPANS_Report_CoverThe results of a new survey – Scotland’s People and Nature Survey (SPANS) – show that urban greenspaces are popular outdoor destinations with an estimated 2.4 million urban Scots making at least one visit to a local greenspace last year, and nearly half of urban residents visiting their park on a weekly basis.

In total, adults in Scotland made an estimated 162.6 million visits to local parks and open spaces in 2013/14 – making them the most popular outdoor destination, accounting for 41% of all visits to the outdoors.

With around three-quarters of urban residents living within a 10 minute walk of their local greenspace, they are great local community assets. Parks and greenspaces are used in a variety of ways for walking, play, sport, relaxation, events and activities.

An extensive body of research shows how quality greenspace impacts positively on people’s physical and mental health and wellbeing; children’s development and learning; community safety and community development.

A majority of people strongly agreed that greenspaces should be good places for children to play, safe places to encourage physical activity, to relax and unwind, and attractive places. But the survey found that fewer than half of urban residents strongly agreed that their local greenspaces met these expectations. The gap between expectations and perceptions was particularly striking for urban residents living in the 15% most deprived areas of Scotland – with only around a quarter strongly agreeing that their local greenspaces met these qualities.

The results highlight several other potential equalities issues in relation to the use and quality of greenspace:

  • People in the AB social grades, those who own or privately rent their home and live outwith the most deprived areas are more likely than average to live within a 5 minute walk of their local greenspace.
  • Those in the AB social grades are most likely to have visited their local greenspace in the last 12 months (90% compared to 62% for people in the DE social grade).
  • Residents who own or privately rent are more likely than council tenants to strongly agree that their local greenspace is a ‘good place for children to play’ and an ‘attractive place’.
  • People living in council housing, the most deprived areas of Scotland and/or in the DE social grades are more likely than average to perceive that the quality of their local greenspace has reduced in the last 5 years.

Greenspace_cities_textpageSpeaking on the release of the survey, Julie Procter, Chief Executive of greenspace scotland said:

“Parks and greenspaces are one of our national treasures but, as this survey shows, we mustn’t take them for granted. Worryingly the survey found that one-third of people thought the quality of their local greenspace had reduced in the last 5 years. Greenspaces are so important to our quality of life – as spaces to meet friends and family; places to walk and exercise; breathing spaces where we can escape from stresses of everyday life; and safe places where our children can explore and play. Parks and greenspaces need to be well-maintained and managed if they are to continue to provide these positive benefits for our health, our children and our communities. In these financially challenging times, it is essential that we continue to cherish, maintain and invest in our parks and greenspaces as vital community assets.”

These results are from the Scotland’s People and Nature Survey (SPANS) commissioned in 2013 by Scottish Natural Heritage with support from Forestry Commission Scotland, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park Authority, Cairngorms National Park Authority and greenspace scotland. The Survey will be repeated in 2016 and every third year until 2022. SPANS incorporates questions previously asked in greenspace scotland’s Greenspace Use and Attitudes survey which ran in 2004, 2007, 2009 and 2011. The ‘Findings relating to urban greenspace’ report can be downloaded here and the full ‘Scotland’s People and Nature Survey’ report can be downloaded from the SNH website

MyPark_LogoIn spring 2015, greenspace scotland will be launching the MyParkScotland project. This exciting new project will provide everyone with the opportunity to explore and support their local parks.