Mapping Access to Greenspace in Dorset for Health & Wellbeing
The first six months of the collaborative project between ECEHH at the University of Exeter Medical School and Public Health Dorset has resulted in an improved understanding of access to greenspaces across Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole. You can read about what we did and produced on the two-page information sheet.
Karlijn Arbouw and Mark Ferguson linked multiple datasets and used mapping software to measure the distance, by foot, to a greenspace or accessible green path for each postcode in Dorset, Bournemouth and Poole. Karlijn and Mark produced:
- A complied Database of Publicly Accessible Greenspaces throughout Dorset, Bournemouth and Pool
- A dataset of Accessible Green Paths
- Accompanying Access Points for the greenspaces and greenpaths
- A network of Walking Paths throughout the county
The results mean that it is now possible to identify communities in both urban and rural areas where people have poorer access to greenspaces. The data will now be used to evaluate whether Dorset meets greenspace accessibility standards such as Natural England’s ANGST or the WHO’s recommendation. It will also be used by a range of different organisations to target demonstration projects to improve use and enhance the benefits of greenspace. These projects could include: improving connectivity of greenspaces, installing signage to create local circular routes through, or to, greenspaces, or working with under-served communities to identify what they need.
The collaboration between ECEHH and Public Health Dorset will support the wider Dorset Sustainability and Transformation Plan and the Healthy Places project. Healthy Places is a two-year programme of activity being delivered in partnership by Public Health Dorset and Dorset County Council working with Bournemouth Borough Council and Borough of Poole. The aim of Healthy Places is to increase, or ‘scale up’, the contribution greenspace makes to helping people to be physically active and preventing the development of conditions which place a significant, and growing strain on the health and social care system in Dorset (e.g. diabetes, obesity, mental health problems etc.).
What a fantastic project and something our whole country would benefit from. New development so rarely incorporates rights of way, other than a public highway, and green infrastructure is greatly undervalued so creating or providing linked access to green space is problematic. However, its advantages are countless. Pedestrian access to green spaces should be a basic human right.