The use of green spaces has increased dramatically since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, where unprecedented volumes of people are using outdoor spaces for exercise and their mental health. In NSW, this increase has led to an almost a doubling of park visits. Centennial Park visits estimated to be up by 20 per cent and the Botanical Gardens at Mount Annan registered their highest visitation on record this year.
However increased pressures on our parks during COVID-19 has highlighted key concerns with green space accessibility. The NSW Planning Minister, Rob Stokes stating that the pandemic has exposed limitations of historic urban design and subsequently released a $15 million dollar shared backyard vision to help create greener cities.
“Mounting global research is clear – accessible green space offers immense health, social and economic benefits.”
Internationally, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention continues to be a strong advocate for maintaining access to green space for wellbeing, foreseeing green spaces as being quintessential for future pandemics.
To better understand the relationship between wellbeing and green spaces The Connective has partnered with Macquarie University to design a nationwide survey investigating how people are engaging with outdoor environments (such as gardens, local parks, natural reserves) and what positive impacts is this having on their physical and emotional wellbeing. The findings from this survey will help to understand whether increasing engagement and appreciation of nature is associated with positive benefits to people’s physical and emotional wellbeing, and whether personality styles also influence these relations. In combination, the findings of this study will be important to further inform and advance the design of public places and development of nature-based wellbeing programs.
“We are interested in learning more about how interactions in green spaces make people feel and the impacts that this has on their wellbeing. Have interactions with outdoor environments during COVID-19 led to a greater appreciation for the outdoors environments and nature? And for some, are these forms of connections with nature a new and exciting experience?”
Associate Professor Mel Taylor, Occupational Psychologist Macquarie University
Have your say on green spaces during COVID-19 | How are you engaging with green spaces during COVID-19? To help us better understand how people are engaging with outdoor environments, including what they value and appreciate about natural environments, please take the time to participate in this important online survey (takes between 20-30 mins to complete): https://lnkd.in/gJmiGFh
Survey Research Team
Associate Professor Peter Davies
Peter Davies is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Planning at Macquarie University. His research draws on more than 20 years’ experience in state and local government and consultancy. Dr Davies has held senior management positions in a number of state agencies and councils, including Senior Manager Sustainability at the Sydney Catchment Authority and Manager Corporate Planning and Sustainability at Ku-ring-gai Council. His current scholarship and teaching focuses on urban environmental policy and planning adopting a multi-disciplinary approach linking theory to practice.
Dr Miles Holmes
Miles is a professional facilitator, anthropologist and nature connection mentor, who has been working with groups in the outdoors for over 25 years. He has been mentored in deep nature connection, wilderness survival and meditation by leading experts in Australia and the USA and holds a PhD in anthropology completed in partnership with Warlpiri people from Central Australia. He is a researcher and published academic and consults as a social anthropologist working with Aboriginal people in some of the most remote regions of Australia.
Professor Maria Kangas
Professor Kangas is a registered Psychologist with dual endorsements in Clinical Psychology and Counselling Psychology and endorsed supervisor with the Psychology Board of Australia. She is also a Professor in Psychology in the Department of Psychology and Centre for Emotional Health at Macquarie University. She has developed a program of research focused on understanding the biopsychosocial variables and emotion regulatory processes contributing to the mental and physical well-being of individuals exposed to traumatic and stressful life events as well as life-threatening medical and benign health conditions across the lifespan including children and adults.
Dr Kath McLachlan
Dr McLachlan comes from a strong background in the community development sector, particularly in regional settings, as a Practitioner, Educator and Researcher. After completing her doctoral degree in 2014, researching rural community development practice, she accepted an appointment with Macquarie University as Academic Director for PACE (Professional & Community Engagement), in the Faculty of Human Sciences where her research focus has continued to involve the nexus of university-community engagement. Dr McLachlan’s research focuses on community based research involving social, environmental, political, economic and cultural domains. From a systems perspective, collaboration is essential to understanding and working with and for people to find solutions to the endemic social problems we face as a society.
With over 20 years of strategic planning, operations and project management experience Waminda is accustomed to and enjoys building multidisciplinary programs that translate innovative concepts into executable plans. Waminda has a high-end capacity to build transdisciplinary networks across government, agencies, land managers, industry groups, community (urban/rural) and research and as aligned to legislative frameworks, policy and planning instruments. As a Director of Programs, Waminda has successfully established a range of large, long-term and complex projects, alliances, networks, consortiums and programs. Waminda has been actively promoting the co-beneﬁts of nature and biophilic associations and is a member on the Biophilic Design Initiative Advisory Panel and #NatureForAll (Australia) committee.
Associate Professor Mel Taylor
Associate Professor Mel Taylor is an Occupational Psychologist and Associate Professor in the Organisational Psychology team at Macquarie University. She is a Chartered Psychologist and Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society. Her research focuses on risk and public, occupational, or organisational safety, and she has a particular interest in psychosocial response and recovery, uptake of protective behaviours, and risk communication strategies. A/Professor Taylor specialises in applied research with high levels of end-user engagement and working with policy developers and practitioners who are generally responsible for protecting and improving public safety, promoting safer practices, or developing more effective risk communication and/or training.
Ross is a very experienced landscape planning, design and management professional with over a 25-year proven track record of delivering integrated sustainable solutions in the grey and green infrastructure sectors across the public, private and academic domains. His broad experience has been gained from technical fieldwork and community facilitation at local levels to senior appointments in policy development, program and project management at local, state and federal government in Victoria, South Australia, Canberra and the UK. Ross is a member of Parks and Leisure Australia’s (PLA) Victorian Open Space Planning Network Committee and is an Infrastructure Sustainability Accredited Professional (ISAP). Ross has recently submitted his PhD in Landscape Architecture (Deakin University) that focused on creating sustainable residential gardens and suburbs in urban Geelong.