- What is used by thousands of people every day?
- Did you know there are over 300 of these in Bristol?
- What is very important to people’s physical and mental health?
- What are known as part of the “Natural Health Service”?
- What is free for everyone to visit?
- What provides green, blue, grey and multi-coloured infrastructure, such as playgrounds, and provides benefits for people and wildlife to enjoy?
No doubt you will have got the answer before bullet point six: Parks and green spaces.
During the current pandemic restrictions, it has become very clear to Bristol’s citizens that our publicly owned parks and green spaces are vital to our health and wellbeing.
Bristol’s parks and open spaces have remained open (with some limited restrictions) and free to use, so that these last few weeks have seen people exercising in their local parks, nature reserves and other public green spaces when they were unable to go anywhere else.
Many have commented on how important they are, what a lifeline they are in these difficult times; and how much their mental health has benefitted from getting out into the green spaces once a day.
Government and our own Bristol City Council have recognised this importance and how critical our open spaces have been.
Whether people enjoy the larger spaces such as Eastville Park, the small parks such as Rawnsley Park in Easton; or the nature reserves such as Northern Slopes in south Bristol, all of Bristol’s open spaces have been a lifeline for many people.
Bristol City Council has declared both climate and ecological emergencies. Parks and green spaces contribute positively to tackling these crises.
But whilst the parks and open spaces are free at the point of use, they still need to be cared for.
Our local Natural Health Service needs financial support. When we as a city are looking at how we can rebuild our economy – support city infrastructure, redesign our city – as recently mentioned by Bristol mayor Marvin Rees, it will be imperative that parks and green spaces are a consideration; and that the planned and future investment by Bristol City Council for our parks and green spaces, goes ahead.
We will need to remember what a benefit they have provided for all, regardless of income, during these difficult times, so that they can be available to us in the future.
Mark Logan is the chair of Bristol Parks Forum.The forum has published a vision for Bristol’s parks and green spaces: www.bristolparksforum.org.uk/BPFVision.pdf
Main photo: Martin Booth