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Greenspace during Covid-19

9 Jul 2020
Ordnance Survey
OS OpenData
covid-19fields in trustgreenspace

As we’re sure you know from your own experience of lockdown, the availability of greenspaces has become even more important throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. With our comprehensive data, we’ve been able to support work identifying them for business and government use as well as for the public to ensure they can get outside safely.

In this blog, we’ll look at 3 different uses; Office of National Statistics (ONS) and household access to greenspace, Fields in Trust’s Green Space Index and within our own OS Maps greenspace layer.

ONS report

Greenspace mapping
Greenspace mapping

By accessing our Mapping for Emergencies (MfE) service, ONS put in a request for our data to help understand how access to greenspace and outdoor gardens may impact Covid-19 infections and to highlight areas with limited outdoor access.

Using this data, ONS published a recent report which showed that one in eight households (12%) in Great Britain has no access to a private or shared garden during the coronavirus lockdown.

They then combined these findings with data from other sources such as Natural England to thoroughly analyse the impact of access to greenspaces. The most interesting fact we found out from it was that the median garden size for a house in London is 140 square metres, just over half the size of a tennis court. This compares with 188 square metres across Great Britain and 226 square metres in Scotland (the largest).

Fields in Trust

This week marks 95 years since the Fields in Trust charity was formed in London’s Royal Albert Hall at a meeting convened by the future HM King George VI. With OS Greenspace data at its core, The Green Space Index is Fields in Trust’s annual barometer of publicly accessible park and green space provision.

The analysis shows that despite their new found importance as a place to get outside, exercise and meet loved ones safely during the Covid-19 lockdown, 2.7m people in Great Britain lack easy access to a park or green space and the health and wellbeing benefits they deliver.

The Green Space Index home page slider.
The Green Space Index home page slider.

Fields in Trust believe the situation could get worse. In partnership with The Co-op, they mapped population growth projections and have estimated that across Britain, green space provision per person could reduce by 7.6% by 2040. Britain’s parks and green spaces are at significant risk of loss to development if we don’t act now to protect them.

The Green Space Index ranks Britain’s nations and regions against a minimum standard of park and green space provision. The East Midlands, London, North East, North West and Yorkshire and the Humber all fall below the minimum level. London was the poorest performer in Great Britain, scoring 45% less than the minimum standard of park and green space provision, and figures recently released by ONS found that Londoners are also the least likely to have access to a garden.

This analysis shows that there is unequal green space provision across Great Britain. Fields in Trust are working with landowners, community organisations and other partners to legally protect parks and green spaces ensuring communities have access, now and in the future, in areas where they are most needed for physical health, mental wellbeing and community connections.

OS Maps greenspace layer

Greenspace mapping.
Greenspace mapping.

During lockdown, use of OS Greenspace layer in OS Maps has seen a massive spike in popularity, with over ten times more users of the map in April 2020 compared to last year – an increase of 1,161%!

As of 3 June, the popular greenspace layer in OS Maps has been updated to include over 60,000 features to help people GetOutside. The extra level of detail is designed to make it easier for people to find alternative green spaces to spend time outside where possible.*

The OS Greenspace layer now details 4,367 parcels of land as nature reserves in GB, 504 parcels of land as country parks, and 55,907 separate parcels as access land under the terms of the Countryside Rights of Way Act. The data shows country parks cover 0.24% of the country, nature reserves cover 1.52% and access land covers 4.45%.

Recent analysis of OS greenspace data estimates that more than a quarter of people (28%) in Great Britain live within a five-minute walk (300m as the crow flies) of a public park, while 72% live fewer than 15 minutes away (900m).

The free Greenspace layer in OS Maps is the easiest way to discover greenspaces across Britain. Discover more stats or explore the OS Maps greenspace layer now.

*Please note not every green space depicted in OS Maps is accessible for the public to visit. Some locations have restrictions so visitors should pay attention to signs.
Ordnance Survey
By Ordnance Survey
Press Office

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