Lessons for providers

The research has flagged up a number of useful areas for consideration by providers of nature and outdoor recreation:

How do the findings of this research affect the implementation of strate­gic environmental assessments, part of a recent EU directive due to be im­plemented soon?

The importance of different kinds of green space and of easy and welcoming access for all, including children, disabled people and people from ethnic minorities, needs to be taken into account in strategies for the regeneration of derelict areas, alongside other social and environmental needs.

Urban parks were highly rated in this study. What are the implications for their funding, regeneration and management?

The implications raised by the findings for regional environmental strategies need to be considered.

Country parks emerged less favourably from the research than some other areas and there are implications for their future. Are there ways to enhance their social value?

Lessons for managers

There are many pointers to things that managers can do to encourage more people to visit green spaces and to ensure that, once there, the visit is a good one.

More and better information is needed, to tell people where they can go, what they can do and how they can get there, orientated towards different groups, such as black and minority ethnic groups, disabled people, older people, socially disadvantaged people etc. This may need to be in different languages, presented in different ways and distributed differently in order to meet the needs of those not reached at present.

Information at sites is also important, possibly presented in new ways and aimed at different groups in what is clearly a fragmented, not a homo­geneous population.

More activities and means of engaging children in green spaces should be considered, so that they develop a habit of visiting them. It is important, nonetheless, to understand why teenagers may not want to visit such sites. Working with parents and police/rangers etc. to develop a safer environ­ment so that children are allowed to go out by themselves would be very helpful.

Further development of educational programmes for children is neces­sary. This was seen by many people as vital yet also seemed not to be widely enough available. Using green areas near schools, which are easier to visit and not necessarily special parks, should be considered.