A team of researchers from UWE Bristol are conducting a survey to investigate how social distancing measures have changed the way that residents are using green spaces and connecting with nature in the West of England.
Working in collaboration with the West of England Combined Authority (WECA), the researchers hope to learn more about the public’s changing habits and relationships with the region’s parks and green spaces in the wake of social distancing measures introduced by the UK government in March to protect the public from the spread of Covid-19.
Dr Danielle Sinnett, Associate Professor in Green Infrastructure who is leading the project with Dr Issy Bray, said: ‘‘Lockdown and social distancing measures have changed the way that we use our local green spaces, including how much time we spend there, the purpose of our visits and the value we place on them. For many people, they are important in providing a place to exercise during lockdown especially as gyms, leisure clubs and swimming pools remain closed.
‘‘For decades, green spaces have been seen as a luxury in town and city planning with many existing parks lacking maintenance – perhaps that needs to change. By carrying out this survey, we can begin to understand the value and contribution that green spaces make to public health and wellbeing and use that information to inform future planning.’’
The results of the survey will be shared with policy makers, local authorities, planners and property developers to enable them to make informed decisions on how green spaces should be provided, promoted and managed, and how their use and importance changes during pandemics.
West of England Mayor, Tim Bowles, said: “Now more than ever we can recognise the benefits of having parks and recreational spaces to enjoy and exercise in. This survey will help create the evidence we need to understand how social distancing measures may have changed the way we are using these spaces and how we value them.”
With the results of the survey, researchers hope to be able to answer four key questions:
- How do green spaces in the West of England impact on the health and wellbeing of the local population during lockdown?
- What is the impact of green spaces on health inequalities in the West of England during lockdown?
- How does the access, type and design of green spaces influence these impacts on health and well-being?
- How has people’s use and perception of their homes changed during lockdown?
The survey can be completed online at https://bit.ly/3cSGnnQ by any resident of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. The survey will close on 1 July with the preliminary results due to be published by the end of July.