Observing nature and access to green spaces plays an important role in positively influencing human health and wellbeing,
In general, individuals with easy access to nature are three times more likely to participate in physical activity and 40% less likely to become overweight or obese (Chapter 23, National Ecosystem Assessment).
Green space quality, including it’s richness in wildlife, may be more important than its quantity. People living near quality green space, full of wildlife and thriving habitats, are twice as likely to report low psychological distress as those living near low quality open spaces (Chapter 23, National Ecosystem Assessment).
In the Thames Gateway, adult and child obesity rates are significantly above the national average. In north Kent and south Essex performance against the access to natural greenspace standard (ANGSt) are as follows:
|% population||North Kent||South Essex||Average|
|within 300m of 2ha site||21.9||27||24.45|
|within 2km of 20ha site||59.9||73.6||66.75|
|within 5km of 100ha site||86.2||74.5||80.35|
|within 10km of 500ha site||78.53||0||39.15|
The costs of physical inactivity to the UK economy totals £20 billion, each year (All Party Commission on Physical Activity).
The NIA seeks to improve health and wellbeing in the Greater Thames through projects such as Nature Watch Points to increase access to and awareness of high quality green space. Visitor destinations such as the new Thurrock Thameside Nature Reserve and improvements to the Thames Estuary Path provide great opportunities for local communities to experience nature, however there are many barriers to access which we need to address.