(photo from Great Linford Manor Park, Milton Keynes)

An article in Monday’s (27 Nov) Guardian highlights recently published information from the Office for National Statistics (ONS), analysing how the UK population uses natural space. The report presents data on the value of ecosystem service flows delivered by the UK’s natural capital. The report concludes that we have been spending less time in nature since the pandemic, although the longer term tend is still upwards. Dom Higgins of the Wildlife Trust comments that ‘people who spend two hours or more a week in nature over the course of a year are more likely to report good, or very good, health’. More detailed research is needed into why our uptake of greenspace services is declining so that future planning for parks and green infrastructure can encourage greater levels of use. Higher levels of use will allow more people to enjoy the well-researched mental and physical health and wellbeing benefits accruing from greenspace.

‘The Office for National Statistics (ONS) found the amount of time Britons visited or spent time in nature fell dramatically last year compared with 2020, with 15% fewer visits recorded in 2022 compared with 2020 at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic.’ – “Health benefits of being in nature worth £356 an adult in 2020, ONS data shows”The Guardian

Spending time in urban nature was on a steady increase from 2011-2019, but after 2020 it is seemingly decreasing. Spending time in nature, especially in urban environments, is a health benefit to us all. Although there has been a drop in nature visits since the Pandemic, this does not take away from the value that access to natural space has as a health benefit for Britons.

Below are the source texts and links to PDF documents for further reading:

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 7 September 2023, ONS website, bulletin, Urban natural capital accounts, UK: 2023 

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 27 November 2023, ONS website, bulletin, UK natural capital accounts: 2023