The importance of greenspace highlighted
Research undertaken during the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of green spaces, and the role they play in maintaining the quality of life and health of those living in cities and dense urban areas.
The benefits associated with exposure to natural environments has previously been demonstrated by researchers, particularly where residents of urban areas are concerned. These benefits may be derived from physical use of urban greenspace, but even visual access to greenspace has been shown to offer health benefits.
In 2018, in a study across 5 European cities, 94% of respondents were active users of parks. During the period of COVID-19 when lockdown measures were implemented across much of the UK and Europe, short-distance outdoor activities in parks were of significant value, due to the perceived constraints of the restrictions imposed. Analysis of Google Trends by researchers revealed a significant increase in search terms such as “go for a walk” or, when faced with a restriction, “coronavirus can I go for a walk”.
Other research carried out in Italy during periods of restricted movement indicated a strong association between depressive symptoms of individuals and small accommodation with poor-quality views and scarce indoor qualities. Even views through a window influenced the mental health status of participants, and there was a strong relationship between poor quality views (i.e. a lack of nature) and depressive symptoms.
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of good quality green infrastructure. Whilst many people have suggested the world has changed as a result of the pandemic, research suggests the expansion of high-quality greenspace should be an essential part of this change.