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Greenspace in a post C19 Scotland

Frightening and uncertain times force us to re-assess what is important to us. We are enduring an extraordinary and tragic time that will be marked in history, and which will have economic, health and social impacts well beyond these first few months of crisis. 

Undoubtedly the C19 crisis has brought into focus the value of local greenspace like never before. Anecdotally, it’s understood that walking and cycling has increased in recent weeks as people recognise the value of local spaces as places to exercise, de-stress and engage with nature. 

Some of us are fortunate enough to also have private outdoor space, balconies or roof gardens.  However, not everyone is as fortunate. This crisis has revealed that equal access to quality greenspace is not enjoyed by all and is particularly difficult for those living in the flats, tenements and tower blocks in and around our cities.

Access to quality outdoor space is not enjoyed by all

The GCV Green Network Partnership has an opportunity to lead the debate and consider how the shaping of “Greenspace in a post C19 Scotland” might work.  

We must consider addressing inequalities and adding fairness, sustainability and the climate and nature emergencies into the recovery mix while thinking through how to reshape existing places and create new ones, particularly in light of continued social distancing in the foreseeable future.  

Nature-based solutions can add value to the recovery process and deliver on economic, environmental, social and health & well-being requirements at the same time and many of our partners, particularly in planning, are starting to think along these lines.

This is an opportunity to re-focus and re-engage people on how we step up and integrate on delivery in a strategic way.  In some respects, the need for a place based and co-produced approach to Open Space Strategies and Green Network planning / delivery has never been more pertinent.

Challenges will remain, loss of greenspace in inner city/high density areas for example perhaps require stronger policy controls and an economic downturn could make it more difficult to obtain developer contributions to enhance and maintain greenspaces.

However, this is a chance to reset the public discourse around health and well-being.  We must ensure that this current realisation of the value of local greenspace is not forgotten as things return to the new normal. 

The new normal must include provision and resourcing of animated local greenspace. With inevitable budgetary pressures in the coming months and years, it’s crucial those of us working to promote Green Network’s and quality greenspaces should continue to champion this cause.