Hearing the health message

"Green space can make a difference to the health outcomes of those living within its vicinity".

This week's call by conservation bodies for a percentage of the health budget to be allocated to increasing the amount of accessible quality green space joins a long line-up of attempts by stakeholders in the wider landscape management sector to get two fundamental messages across. First, that green space can make a significant difference to the health outcomes of those living within its vicinity, and second; that green space needs to be properly funded.

As we note in our report, the call from the National Trust, RSPB and Wildlife Trusts will be followed by the Horticulture Innovation Partnership, which is seeking to position horticulture as a 'natural health service' and calls, likewise, for a health contribution.

The key to making the investment case to the health sector's purse holders is the quality of evidence on the contribution quality green spaces can make.

In this issue we report on a pilot to improve children's health through provision of active play spaces - part of the Active Spaces initiative funded by the public health department of London's Camden Council and the Camden Clinical Commissioning Group. Researchers are using ActiGraph technology to measure physical activity levels over a seven-day period while qualitative data will be collated on mental health, educational attainment and social cohesion.

Already the active play space is encouraging physical activity. Says pilot project designer LUC's Jennette Emery-Wallis: "The acid test is whether the boy or girl who would have sat on the edge of the play area is joining in, and our observations are showing that they are."

KATE LOWE, EDITOR — kate.lowe@haymarket.com

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