Greenspace is our natural health service

Contributing to the Scottish Government Outcome:

There is a wealth of good quality evidence demonstrating the positive impact that greenspaces can have on physical and mental health.

The World Health Organization report Urban greenspaces and health summarises evidence on the beneficial effects of urban greenspaces, including:

  • improved mental health
  • reduced cardiovascular morbidity and mortality
  • reduced obesity and risk of type 2 diabetes
  • improved pregnancy outcomes.

For some health outcomes, particularly mental health, research shows that greenspaces can help mitigate the health impacts of socio-economic inequality. There is evidence to suggest this is also the case for all-cause and circulatory disease morbidity. This means that the benefits of greenspace are greater for those worst off in society.

The World Health Organization indicates there is a need for small, local greenspaces very close to where people live and spend their day, as well as large greenspaces, offering formal provisions such as playing fields, and opportunities to experience contact with nature and relative solitude.

NHS Health Scotland in their evidence to the Local Government and Communities Committee indicated that providing equitable access to (and use of) good quality greenspace for everyone in Scotland is a priority.

A study by Defra estimates that the health system could save £2.1billion per year if everyone had access to sufficient greenspace.

Contributing to UN Sustainable Development Goals:

An increasing number of health projects are including greenspace as an intervention - see health project examples