The resources in this section have now [July 2017] been superceded by the new OS Greenspace projects but this page and the linked resources have been maintained for archive and research purposes. For up-to-date information on greenspace mapping, please follow this link

Developing the greenspace map – a retrospective

Scotland’s Greenspace Map was a world first; no other country had mapped its greenspace in this way. It provided an innovative Geographical Information System (GIS) based map with comprehensive information on the location, extent and type of greenspace across all of Scotland’s urban settlements (i.e. towns and cities with a population of 3,000 or more).

The Map was compiled in 2011 from greenspace data provided by all 32 Scottish Councils. The local datasets were produced using greenspace mapping characterisation. This involved using GIS maps and aerial photography to categorise greenspaces into 23 different open space types (based on the typology set out in Planning Advice Note 65 Planning and Open Space); these include public parks, play areas, allotments, amenity greenspace, private gardens. Primary and secondary codes were used to capture multi-functional greenspaces, for example, play areas or woodland within larger public parks. 

The challenge was how to keep such a comprehensive resource up-to-date and accurate. Following technical trials and pilot work with Ordnance Survey, a new partnership project was developed under the framework of the One Scotland Map Agreement and then extended to England and Wales in partnership with the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy as part of the Public Service Map Agreement, to produce the first comprehensive greenspace data for Britain.

This project was developed in Scotland by a cross-sector partnership, led by greenspace scotland and Scottish Government, working with Forestry Commission Scotland, Scottish Natural Heritage, Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, NHS Health Scotland, sportscotland, CoSLA and Scottish Councils, Improvement Service, Central Scotland Green Network and Glasgow & Clyde Valley Green Network Partnership.

greenspace mapping and characterisation

Mapping the greenspace resource is a fundamental part of an open strategy audit and underpins the development of an open space or greenspace strategy.

greenspace scotland has been working with local authorities to map and characterise greenspace across urban Scotland.  All of the urban areas of Scotland have now been mapped and in 2011 the data was combined to produce a single national dataset and Scotland’s Greenspace Map. LINK

A suite of guidance documents have been prepared to assist local authorities and other partners to map and characterise greenspace and then to maintain and use the data. 

why map greenspace?

Research has shown that greenspace delivers a wide-range of quality of life and quality of place benefits relating to health and wellbeing, economic development, biodiversity, climate change mitigation and adaptation. To deliver these benefits and to safeguard the management and development of the existing greenspace resource, local authorities and others need accurate information on the extent, distribution and type of greenspace in their area. Greenspace mapping provides this information which also enables cross-boundary work on strategic development plans, green networks and regeneration projects; the development of decision-support tools for opportunities mapping and prioritising investment; and when combined with other data can support national research on, for example, greenspace, health and deprivation.

Scottish Planning Policy requires local authorities to undertake an audit of their own open space and to produce an open space strategy. An open space strategy should comprise of these main elements: an audit of existing open space provision; an assessment of current and future requirements; and a strategy statement with a clear set of priorities and actions. There are two key elements of an open space audit, a quantitative audit of the amount and type of open space and an assessment of the quality and community value of open space. Greenspace mapping and characterisation provides the information required for the quantitative element of an open space audit.


Scotland's greenspace map

Scotland’s Greenspace Map is an innovative Geographical Information System (GIS) based map which provides comprehensive information on the location, extent and type of greenspace across all of Scotland’s urban settlements.

Working in partnership with Ordnance Survey, the greenspace map has been updated and extended GB-wide more