The impact of Covid-19 restrictions on recreation and use of green space in Wales

Lead Research Organisation: Bangor University
Department Name: Sch of Natural Sciences


The use of green spaces for recreation has acknowledged benefits for physical and mental health, to the extent of reducing mortality rates [1]. Green spaces include parks and gardens in urban areas, and the wider countryside in more rural settings. There is, however, great inequality in access to green spaces for different sections of society. People from more deprived backgrounds suffer from a lack of quality local green space, but also the means to travel to more distant green space, and use of green spaces tends to decrease with age. A key policy aim is to increase use of green spaces by all sectors of society.
Variation in people's use of green spaces remains poorly understand. The social distancing regulations implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic both restrict travel, but also emphasise the importance of exercising locally. This provides a fascinating 'natural experiment' into how the use of green spaces is affected by these regulations. In particular, do we find that different sections of society are affected differently as distant travel is discouraged, but permitted exercise increases use of local green spaces?
In January 2020, we surveyed >1000 people, obtaining a representative sample from across Wales. Data showed where, why and how people access green spaces, and the benefits they derive. Repeating this survey during the period of restricted travel and as the UK recovers from the coronavirus crisis will provide unique insight on how people benefit from natural spaces and how this was impacted by Covid-19.


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Description As per our project plan, this project is still in the data collection stage. We are on-schedule, having run four repeat surveys with a sample of individuals in Wales looking at their use of green space and how this has changed in response to covid lockdowns (we had a 'baseline' survey from January 2020 before covid). We will continue to two more repeats till the summer 2021 as we come out of restrictions due to the pandemic. We can then analyse the dataset as a whole.
Exploitation Route It is too early to say.
Sectors Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism