Documents to download

The ‘green spaces’ that are the subject of this note are natural or semi-natural areas partially or completely covered by vegetation that occur in or near urban areas. They include parks, woodlands and allotments, which provide habitat for wildlife and can be used for recreation. Only half of people in England live within 300 metres of green space and the amount of green space available is expected to decrease as urban infrastructure expands.

Key points in this POSTnote include:

  • Physical and mental illnesses associated with sedentary urban lifestyles are an increasing economic and social cost.
  • Areas with more accessible green space are associated with better mental and physical health.
  • The risk of mortality caused by cardiovascular disease is lower in residential areas that have higher levels of ‘greenness’.
  • There is evidence that exposure to nature could be used as part of the treatment for some conditions.
  • There are challenges to providing green spaces, such as how to make parks easily accessible and how to fund both their creation and maintenance.


POSTnotes are based on literature reviews and interviews with a range of stakeholders and are externally peer reviewed. POST would like to thank interviewees and peer reviewers for kindly giving up their time during the preparation of this briefing, including:

  • Professor Stephen Morton; University of Southampton *
  • Professor Jules Pretty; University of Essex *
  • Professor Jim Harris; Cranfield University*
  • Julia Thrift; Town and Country Planning Association*
  • Richard Mitchell; Institute of Health and Wellbeing, University of Glasgow*
  • Scott Sellers; Defra
  • Gordon Scorer and Leah McNally; Wildlife Trust London
  • Professor Michael Depledge; Chair of Environment and Human Health at University of Exeter *
  • Dr Rebecca Lovell and Dr Ben Wheeler; University of Exeter*
  • Frances Harris; University of Hertfordshire
  • David Buck (Public health and health inequalities); The Kings Fund *
  • Jean-Pierre Schweitzer and Collective comments from other members of IEEP including specialists from Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL) M. Nieuwenhuijsen, M. Gascon and M. Triguero-Mas; Institute of European Environmental Policy*

*Denotes people who acted as external reviewers of the briefing.

Documents to download

Related posts

  • COVID-19 glossary

    The most common scientific terms used in research that relates to COVID-19. This glossary will help you understand materials that describe the biology of Coronavirus and the spread of COVID-19. It can assist in the reading of research papers and help you understand language used in drug and vaccine development. It also has a comprehensive list of international and UK organisations involved in public health, their institutional acronyms and descriptions of their work.

    COVID-19 glossary
  • Preventing emerging zoonoses

    Zoonoses are diseases that can be transmitted between animals and humans. This POSTnote summarises approaches to preventing zoonoses with pandemic potential by targeting animal-environment-human interactions. It reviews current biosecurity measures in the UK and globally, notes lessons from COVID-19 and identifies future strategies.

    Preventing emerging zoonoses