Almost 20,000 football pitches worth of green space could be lost over the next 20 years as the UK’s population increases, a leading charity has warned.
The annual ‘Green Space Index’ by Fields in Trust suggests 2.7 million people already live more than a 10-minute walk from a public park and a further 170,000 people could be in the same position in the next five years
According to the index, London has the lowest regional amount of green space per person, with just 18.96 square metres for each person.
Figures recently released by the Office of National Statistics also found that Londoners are also the least likely to have access to a garden.
Earlier research by the charity valued the physical health and mental wellbeing benefits for communities at more than £34 billion each year.
It found regular users of parks have fewer visits to their GP resulting in a saving to the NHS alone of £111 million a year, the equivalent of 3,500 nurses salaries.
‘Parks and green spaces play a vital role in people’s health and wellbeing, and these benefits have been shown even more starkly during the really difficult times our country has faced in recent months,’ said Fields in Trust chief executive, Helen Griffiths.
‘Our local parks and green spaces have been crucial during the crisis and they will have a significant part to play in our recovery
‘Yet our research shows that over 2.7 million people don’t have a park within a short walk of home and this number is forecast to grow over the coming years,’ added Ms Griffiths.
‘This doesn’t have to be the case and that’s why we’re calling for a national strategy to recognise their value by ensuring access to parks and green spaces is guaranteed both now and in the future in areas where they are most needed.’
Photo Credit – Tama66 (Pixabay)