image002Last week, the Parks Alliance (TPA) published  ‘The National Playground: growing the next generation’ on the importance of parks to family life. The report says that the current squeeze on budgets is putting parks and green spaces at risk.

Data highlighted in the report show that parents with children under 10, are most concerned about the impact of budget cuts on local parks, with 7 out of 10 worried about the prospect of cuts.  In this parent group, 8 out of 10 visit parks once a month, the highest number of any park users.

Other data highlighted in the report include:

  • Park visits accounted for an estimated 827 million visits taken to the natural environment in England 2014/15.
  • Every month, on average, three quarters of children (75%) visit the natural environment with adults from their own household.
  • Play was the dominant reason given by adults for the visits they took with children to the natural environment. 47% of children took visits that were motivated by adults wanting to play with their children and 43% took visits where the motivation was ‘to let the children play’.

pa_mas1280t_3n

Mark Camley, the Chair of The Parks Alliance, commenting on the report, said: “Public parks have provided generations of young people with safe space to play and enjoy themselves. Parks and green spaces enable families to spend quality time together, and help with physical and mental health.

The case for maintaining parks is clear but their future is under threat. Since 2010, 86% of parks managers’ report cuts to revenue budgets. The Park’s Alliance is concerned about the risk of closures, sell-offs and a drop in the quality of our green spaces and calls for a public Inquiry in to how parks are funded.”

At NAEE, we like parks, and recognise their importance to health and well-being in urban areas.  Yet we also now that many can be a bit thin on ‘the natural environment’, and so we’d like a bit more clarity in such reports on the relationship between different kinds of outdoor activity and environmental learning.  By all means increase the former, but don’t forget the latter.