Change in use of green and open space following COVID-19 lockdown – A Public Health Scotland Report

Public Health Scotland’s cross-disciplinary team is currently involved in many different aspects of COVID-19 related research. They are engaging in research to understand the impact of the pandemic on population health and inequalities in collaboration with key partners, including Public Health Scotland. They are also providing advice and expert commentary to leaders, practitioners and the media.

The main findings of Public Health Scotland’s work so far are that:

  • Use of green and open space was polarised during lockdown. Some people did increase their frequency of use and time spent outside, but many made fewer or no visits.
  • The most marked reduction in time spent in green and open spaces was amongst older people.
  • Overwhelmingly, users reported that green and open space benefited their mental health during lockdown.
  • Socio-economic inequalities in use of green and open spaces existed before lockdown. Lockdown did not reduce these and may have made them worse.

Public Health Scotland have recommend that Scottish Government, Local Authorities and the third sector:

  1. Recognise that not everyone used outdoor space more as result of lockdown. There were marked falls in use amongst some groups, most notably older people. These will lead to widening health inequalities if positive action to address them is not taken
  2. Act to redress the marked reduction in use by older people during lockdown. This could be through a combination of outreach, walking groups and community action.
  3. Act to redress the underlying socio-economic inequality in access to, and use of, public and private open space.
  4. Recognise that those who do use open spaces feel the benefit on their mental health. These spaces are an essential resource for community wellbeing, and they must be protected and prioritised in any future fiscal squeeze.

For full details of this study, please see here

The full Public Health Scotland report can be viewed here

Nature Scot have also produced a report relevant to the work Public Health Scotland have been doing and this can be viewed here.

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