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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 and ‘that the use of the natural environment as a setting for health promotion can be effective’ (DEFRA: Social Science Research Fellowship on the natural environment and human health)

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 may well also offer opportunities to those groups most in need, helping to reduce health inequalities. ‘Through its influence on behaviour green space can play a role in improving, particularly, the health of vulnerable populations such as children, older people, pregnant women and lower income groups. In this way, it can contribute to a reduction in health inequalities’ (INHERIT Exploring triple-win solutions for living, moving and consuming that encourage behavioural change, protect the environment, promote health and health equity

The C19 crisis has brought into focus the value of local greenspace like never before. Nature-based solutions can add value to the recovery process and deliver on economic, environmental, social and health & well-being requirements. We must ensure that this current realisation of the value of local greenspace is not forgotten as things return to the new normal.

"We want to change the places and environments where people live so that all places support people to be healthy and create wellbeing."

Public Health Priorities

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’.(https://publichealthreform.scot/the-reform-programme/scotlands-public-health-priorities)

The GCV Green Network Partnership is working with Public Health Scotland, local authorities and wider partners to help deliver on the following Scottish Government public health priorities:



a Scotland where we live in vibrant, healthy and safe places and communities

by providing easy access to greenspaces designed for local needs where all sections of the community can meet and interact

a Scotland where we have good mental wellbeing

by providing local opportunities for relaxation, restoration and to interact with nature

a Scotland where we have a sustainable, inclusive economy with equality of outcomes for all

by reducing inequality through provision of free to access, high quality recreational opportunities where people live

a Scotland where we eat well, have a healthy weight and are physically active

by making “purposeful travel” and outdoor recreation an attractive option as part of daily routines

To be successful in achieving these aims Public Health Scotland promote a whole system approach ‘to better understand public health challenges and identify collective actions’. (Public Health Scotland

The importance of the natural environment to Climate Change

The Blueprint is Glasgow City Region’s strategic masterplan for delivery of the Green Network and it consists of:

  • a Strategic Access Network, and
  • a Strategic Habitat Network.

Crucially for climate change and biodiversity loss, the Strategic Habitat Network will help guide action to protect, manage and enhance habitat and habitat networks across the region’s eight local authorities, providing benefits for people and wildlife.

The Strategic Habitat Network will help people and wildlife adapt to Climate Change and the Ecological Crisis

To learn more about our Blueprint click here.



Delivery of the Green Network is central to placemaking, providing the underpinning framework that sets the context for communities and serves as an integral part of daily lives.

characteristics of place, and the interactions between them, have an important influence on our health and wellbeing throughout our lifetime. Some aspects of place will nurture and promote good health while others can be detrimental. The distribution of these characteristics is not equal. Those living in areas of greater deprivation are more likely to be exposed to harmful environmental factors, such as poor air quality, and less likely to have access to beneficial ones, such as greenspace.   (Health Scotland Place and Inequalities Briefing)

Preparation of Open Space Strategies, including the setting of standards for accessibility to, and quality and quantity of greenspace, has recently become a statutory duty for local authorities. This represents a major opportunity to ensure that those currently suffering environmental inequality are prioritised.

The Partnership is working with South Lanarkshire Council on the first of a new suite of Open Space Strategies that will take a more holistic approach with placemaking and addressing inequality at there core.



Examples of Partnership work in the health sector

The GCV Green Network Partnership is committed to delivering a quality Green Network that works for everybody and offers lots of opportunities for activity from people’s doorsteps.

In addition to our current work programme, we have previously undertaken a number of projects to investigate how the GN can contribute to particular health objectives and some of these are detailed below.

“A Scotland where we live in vibrant, healthy and safe places and communities” is one of six priorities to improve the health of the Scottish population. Achieving this means the whole system working collectively to shift our focus towards reducing health inequalities by preventing ill health and improving healthy life expectancy for all. The GCV Green Network Partnership demonstrates what this means in practice and our work with them will help to achieve these outcomes.”

Ali MacDonald, Organisational Lead, Healthy and Active Environments, Public Health Scotland