Covid-19 and Sheer Wellbeing 2020 - Access to and Use of Blue/Green Spaces in Ireland during a Pandemic
Authors: Gesche Kindermann, Christine Domegan and Sinead Duane
This Small-Scale Study looked at the access to and use of blue/green spaces in Ireland during a Pandemic. This report builds upon and extends Our Environment, Our Health, Our Wellbeing: Access to Blue/Green Spaces and Water Quality in Ireland (2017-HW-MS-12).
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- Covid-19 highlights a socioeconomic gradient in inequalities in access to and uses of blue/green spaces in Ireland.
- Notably, there are significant differences between socioeconomic groups in relation to the numbers of days spent outdoors in the previous week - the lowest income group reported the lowest average number of days (2.6) spent outdoors in blue/green spaces.
- There are statistically significant differences in how the proximity of blue/green spaces is perceived in urban and rural areas. Respondents in isolated locations perceive blue and green spaces to be beyond easy walking distance, while those in urban areas agreed they are in within easy walking distance.
- Older over 55 age groups on average visited blue/green spaces on more days, than those under 55 years.
- Those who reported spending no time outdoors over the previous week reported the lowest level of good or better health ratings (52%), while those who reported spending time outdoors on six or seven days had the highest levels of good or better self-reported health (79%).
- The main problems identified in neighbourhoods were rubbish and litter, dog fouling (both >70%) and poor public transport (>60%).
- Covid-19 restrictions were cited as a barrier to using blue/green spaces by 20% of respondents, with lack of social distancing perceived as a problem in particular in Dublin.
- Despite these problems, many respondents stated that their blue spaces (65%) and green spaces (76%) were of a high enough standard to spend time in them.
- In 2020, 3.6% of respondents stated that a lack of suitable blue/green spaces had prevented them from spending time out of doors in the previous week.
- The Covid-19 new normal presents a unique transformative opportunity to rapidly ‘reset the system’, to alter behaviours and attitudes towards blue/ green spaces for the betterment of our environments, and our health and wellbeing.
- Policy and decision makers could navigate ongoing Covid-19 challenges with an annual or bi-annual large scale survey of how the Irish population, communities and socio economic groups access and use blue and green spaces in Ireland.