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Open spaces are essential for community wellbeing and must be protected from spending cuts, say researchers.

The use of green spaces and their value for mental health in Scotland was examined by a team from Glasgow University.

They sifted data from two significant surveys and found that usage was polarised and while some people increased the frequency and time spent outside, many made fewer visits or none at all.

Green space usage among the elderly was markedly down and socio-economic inequalities that influence visits may have been made worse.

These spaces are an essential resource for community wellbeing, and they must be protected and prioritised in any future fiscal squeeze

Study authors

But ‘overwhelmingly’ those that did enjoy parks and gardens reported this had helped their mental health during lockdown and 58 per cent of those questioned said they intended to make more use of green and open spaces in future.

In their report, the researchers urge all levels of government in Scotland to recognise the mental health benefits of access to green spaces and that disparities in access will lead to widening health inequalities if action isn’t taken.

Outreach, walking groups and community action are suggested as ways to remedy the fall in outdoor space usage among older people

‘These spaces are an essential resource for community wellbeing, and they must be protected and prioritised in any future fiscal squeeze,’ they add.

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