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This article in The Conversation  outlines the new understanding of the importance of greenspace  for mental and physical health and ties in the importance of natural environments for stress reduction and social cohesion.

Through the United Kingdom’s Green Network  health inequality can be reduced by ensuring residents have access to nature.  Calling this the “triple-win” this access  “encourages behavioural change, protects the environment,  and promote health and health equity.”

I have already written about the work that Scotland is doing in reframing cities and spaces around walkability in what North Americans are calling “the ten or fifteen minute city”. That describes being able to access schools, shops and services within an easy walk from each residence in a city. Scotland has decided that temporary items such as wider sidewalks and streets closed to vehicular traffic to encourage walking and cycling will remain, and those temporary reductions in vehicle speed will be made permanent.

The Covid-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of access to greenspace, and is the foundation of a shift from a curative model of health to one that prevents illness, reduces inequities and is based upon partnership across health disciplines. “Purposeful travel” by sidewalk or by bicycle is the building block of basic routines outlined by the Scottish Government .

This work will be implemented in a new partnership between Public Health Scotland, local municipalities and the Green Network. As Public Health Scotland’s official announcement stated: “To be successful in achieving these aims Public Health Soctland promotes a whole systems approach to  better understand public health challenges and to identify collective actions”.”

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Image: Mentalhealth.org

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