The Green Network and Health
There is a growing body of evidence to show that access to greenspace is beneficial to health and well-being.
Natural environments allow opportunities for outdoor physical activity, stress reduction, social cohesion, and, according to a 2016 WHO report, urban green spaces have the potential to help with issues such as mental illness, cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and cancer.
Cities that integrate nature can enjoy additional health benefits including a reduction in the urban heat island effect (cooling cities in summer), and by improving air quality thereby reducing exposure to air pollution.
Planning for a Healthier Scotland
In Scotland, the public health reform programme states to ‘improve Scotland’s health and wellbeing we need to work together to shift our focus towards preventing ill health, reducing inequalities and working more effectively in partnership’.
Through strategic planning, the GCV Green Network Partnership is working with local authorities and wider partners, including Public Health Scotland, to help deliver on the following Scottish Government public health priorities.
- a Scotland where we live in vibrant, healthy and safe places and communities [with a high quality Green Network providing easy and well-linked access to the outdoors]
- a Scotland where we have good mental wellbeing [and can enjoy the natural world around us]
- a Scotland where we have a sustainable, inclusive economy with equality of outcomes for all [with a Green Network reducing inequality by better connecting people to the places they work and shop]
- a Scotland where we eat well, have a healthy weight and are physically active [using our Green Network for exercise and community growing]
The Partnership is an advocate of the multiple health and wellbeing benefits derived from creation of the Green Network and is a champion of Green Network delivery.
With a work programme that includes the innovative Blueprint project and the influential Planning for Green Infrastructure policy work, the Partnership will contribute to Scotland’s public health priorities and strive to make the Green Network vision a reality.
By doing so, we can make a huge contribution to the preventative health agenda and help improve the quality of life of 1.8m people in the Glasgow City Region.
What will be delivered?
The Green Network will contribute to a vibrant, healthy Scotland.
It will do this in a number of ways:
- through creation of a well-connected, high quality Green Network which will improve local access to the places people want to go including parks, town centres, health and sports facilities, reducing inequalities.
- a Green Network will provide opportunities for walking and cycling, improving physical health, it will also offer opportunities to connect with nature improving mental wellbeing
- use of the Access Network will help reducing reliance on cars improving the quality of the air we breathe, and reducing our carbon footprint
- Integrated Green Infrastructure designed in to new and existing places will also help the region adapt to climate change absorbing rainwater to prevent flooding and cooling the city as the climate warms
The Partnership were instrumental in bringing about delivery of the fantastic Seven Lochs Wetland Park offering tens of thousands of local residents across Glasgow City and North Lanarkshire a resource which will offer lots of healthy opportunities to play, learn, relax, and enjoy nature and the best of the man-made world (with fabulous play facilities and the Seven Lochs Trail)!
More information about the work can be found here: https://www.gcvgreennetwork.gov.uk/case-studies/seven-lochs
Lanarkshire Green Health Partnership
The GCV Green Network Partnership has done analysis to support the Lanarkshire Green Health Partnership on the correlation between communities in the lowest 15% SIMD across both North and South Lanarkshire and access to greenspace and good quality greenspace. This helped to target effort and resources to those communities who may have most to benefit by accessing greenspace.
Further information on the Lanarkshire Green Health Partnership can be found here:
The GCV Green Network Partnership worked in partnership with the NHS and Forestry Commission Scotland to conduct a pilot study programme around the idea of using greenspace to promote and maintain mental health. Use of the outdoors and access to greenspace as a therapeutic tool was found to have major physiological, social and physical benefits and the programme has since been rolled out across the country with guidance produced to allow other organisations to run similar programmes.
More information about the work can be found here: https://forestry.gov.scot/forests-people/health-strategy/branching-out
Health and Open Space (Auchenback)
The Partnership, together with East Renfrewshire Council and East Renfrewshire Community Health and Care Partnership, worked on an early study to seek practical ways in which stakeholders and others can ensure that outdoor spaces make the greatest possible contribution to physical and mental health and wellbeing by helping everyone to be more active as part of their everyday lives.
More information about the work can be found here: https://www.gcvgreennetwork.gov.uk/publications/234-auchenback-health-and-open-space-project
To improve health and wellbeing we need to work together to shift our focus towards preventing ill health, reducing inequalities and working more effectively in partnership. Our work with the GCVGNP will help us achieve that.
Ali MacDonald, Programme Manager, Public Health Scotland