Parks and green areas are vital

Sir, – While parks have traditionally been viewed as places for sport and recreation, scientific evidence points to a range of added benefits from being outdoors. Many studies now demonstrate that simply being in green space can have a positive effect on our mental health. Just enjoying nature can help us relax, reduce our stress levels, and make us feel happier. A recent study published in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research shows just how little time it takes to get the benefits of being outside. Spending just 20 minutes in a park – even if you do not exercise while you are there – is enough to improve wellbeing.

Internationally, the medical community is increasingly viewing green space as a place where patients can gain both physical and mental health benefits. The European Public Health Alliance has recommended that mental health and wellbeing are taken into account during and in the aftermath of the crisis. Parks and open spaces – by providing opportunities for regaining our emotional, psychological and mental balance – have a key role to play. As restrictions on movement ease, outdoor space where people can safely enjoy nature will be of vital importance. While the management of social distancing in outdoor space poses an unprecedented challenge, particularly in areas where there are deficits of public green spaces, the potential societal gain from this increased access is enormous and can lead to a new appreciation of the value of our accessible green areas. – Yours, etc,


Irish Landscape Institute,


Dublin 8.