Natural England


Quantifying Britain’s greenspaces with data and standards

By Andrew Cooling, Strategic Development Manager (Government Relationships Team)

There’s a growing body of research showing a connection between greenspaces and human health and wellbeing.

So much so, areas of green – including parks, public gardens and open spaces – are now a key consideration in the design and structure of towns, cities and communities.

Research into this field comes from all sectors, including social, medical, transport, recreation, housing and planning.

One independent study by land management charity The Land Trust looked at the value of greenspaces and their impact on society. The Value of Greenspaces report reveals that they play a positive part in 90% of people’s wellbeing. Those living near these spaces felt more encouraged to stay fit and healthy, and believed that green areas helped make their communities more desirable (leading to economic uplift).

Greenspaces also improve air quality, reduce the likelihood of flooding, mitigate climate change and are havens for wildlife.

The 2014 International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health states that:

‘Green space should be accessible to as many people as possible. People are more likely to visit green space if they do not have to travel far to reach it, and the most frequent visitors report the greatest benefits to their mental wellbeing.’

There are economic benefits, too. According to the Office for National Statistics’ Natural Capital Accounts, the value associated with living near a green space is estimated to be just over £130 billion in the UK.

With this in mind, further research has been happening in the geospatial arena. What kind of greenspace? Where exactly is it? And how accessible?  More insight is being applied to greenspaces to make them more ‘quantifiable’. Read More


Osmington White Horse – an update

A few months ago, we told you about the work we have been doing with The Osmington White Horse restoration team to help them to restore the figure to its original form. So, as the winter sets in and the team are no longer on the hill, I thought you might like to hear about how it’s gone and what’s happening next.

The Osmington White Horse is a figure cut into the hill just outside Weymouth Bay. The figure of George III on his horse was originally created in 1808 and is enormous at 85 metres long and nearly 100 metres high. It’s on a very steep slope which can be seen from Weymouth Bay which will host the sailing element of the Olympics in 2012.

Although there have been a number of spasmodic maintenance and restoration projects over the years (including Challenge Anneka in the 1980s) the figure had deteriorated badly and the original figure had become overgrown and ill-defined over time.

The project to restore the figure started in 2009 by The Osmington Society – an amazing group of local people with a desire to improve the heritage in their area. They enlisted the support of Natural England, English Heritage and Ordnance Survey to help identify the original outline. Read More


Everything you need to know about Rights of Way

Earlier this year I was involved with the running of a series of Ordnance Survey map reading workshops across Great Britain. One topic that regularly cropped up was rights of way – where can I go walking? Today on the Ordnance Survey blog I hope to be able to answer that question for you.

When we’re compiling the information for our maps we talk to a variety of other organisations and groups that provide different data-sets to link with the maps. When our surveyors are on the ground, or when our cartographers take information from the aerial photography that our plane has taken, they can’t always tell what the rights of way in that area are. We work with local authorities and national bodies (such as Sustrans and Natural England) to bring the information together for the maps. The maps are as accurate as they can be with the information that we have to hand at the time of the map being printed.

First of all – let’s have a look at the map and see what that tells us. What we’re looking at is the “Communications” section on the map legend. Here we can see the different types of roads and paths and public rights of way. Read More