The following frequently asked questions are designed to give you a non-technical introduction to the Green Space Index and help you to explore its results. If you would like to learn more we have also produced a set of Technical Notes which explain in greater detail how the Green Space Index has been compiled.

We would welcome any comment on the Green Space Index by email to info@fieldsintrust.org.

About

What is the Green Space Index?
The Green Space Index is Fields in Trust's barometer of publicly accessible local park and green space provision. When we launched the Green Space Index last year it was the first such measure that had been created to take stock of the quantity of local park provision against the population of Great Britain. In May 2020 we released the second version of the Index, updated with the latest data.

How is the data presented?
You can view the data table on our website which shows the five indices for each region and nation. We have also created a set of online maps so you can explore the results in an interactive and visual way.

What do the different indicators measure?

  • GSI Score: This is our own unique measure showing whether an area meets a minimum level of park and green space provision, where a score of 1 demonstrates a minimum standard of provision.
  • Provision of green space (ha.): Total park and green space provision within the given area, reported in hectares.
  • Provision of green space per person (sqm): The total green space provision per person within the given area, reported in square metres.
  • Population not within a ten-minute walk of a park or green space: The number of people who do not live within a ten-minute walk of a park or green space.
  • Green space legally protected with Fields in Trust (ha.): Total park and green space provision that is legally protected with Fields in Trust for current and future generations within the given area, reported in hectares.

Why have Fields in Trust produced it?
Building on our Revaluing Parks and Green Spaces research findings we developed the Green Space Index to illustrate the situation and provide analysis on the social benefits parks and green spaces bring to communities. Through our Green Spaces for Good strategy we are creating an evidence-led approach and calling for parks and green spaces to be revalued, not for what they cost to maintain but for the value they contribute to society. We believe that green spaces are good, do good and need to be protected for good.

How often will it be updated?
We update the Green Space Index annually each May.

Has this been done before?
The 2019 release of the Green Space Index was the first time that publicly accessible local parks and green spaces had been mapped and analysed in this way. We have only been able to analyse data on park and green space provision since the production of a national Greenspace map by Ordnance Survey. Prior to that it was not possible to track how much green space has been lost to development, for example, but over coming years, future iterations of the Green Space Index will enable us to analyse those types of trends over time.

What has changed since last year and why can we not yet draw comparisons?
We have seen changes in the findings of the May 2020 release of the Green Space Index across all indicators. We do not yet feel able to draw comparisons in the total provision of green space because the latest release of Greenspace data from Ordnance Survey includes a number of revisions to improve accuracy of the base data, thus changes do not necessarily represent loss or gain of green space.

In order to give a more up to date and accurate picture we have also used population projection data for 2020 instead of the 2011 Census population data that we used last year.

What is likely to change in the future?
We know that parks are at crisis point and the lack of funding and statutory protection are compounding the issues facing our parks. We also know that populations in urban areas will grow and this will negatively impact on the quantity of green space available to communities. This year, in partnership with The Co-op, we wanted to explore the potential impact and have produced a set of analysis about population change and green space over the next twenty years. You can discover the findings of this research in our interactive online resource. We will update our population data each year in line with the latest projections to ensure the Green Space Index keeps track not just with annual changes in green space but also in population. We will continue to use the latest available datasets in future iterations.

Can I use the data in my own project?
Data from the Green Space Index is not available as open data but you are welcome to use the findings in your own research and reports with credit to Fields in Trust and a link to the Green Space Index web page. If you have used the Index's findings then we would love to hear how it has benefitted your project - please get in touch by emailing info@fieldsintrust.org. The full data for each LSOA is not currently available to download but can be viewed within the interactive online maps for each nation and region.

Exploring the Green Space Index WebApp

What are the geographic areas shown on the WebApp?
We have created 11 WebApps each displaying a region or nation of Great Britain as defined by the Office for National Statistics. The data you see on each map is displayed as part of Lower Layer Super Output Areas (LSOAs) in England and Wales and Data Zones (DZs) in Scotland. These are geographical hierarchies designed to improve the reporting of small areas statistics.

To help you understand the data you are seeing when you are exploring the maps we also include the latest County and Unitary Authority boundaries as well as Ward boundaries, both outlined in purple.

Why do you include high and low detail layers on the WebApp?
We have produced a WebApp for each region and nation within Great Britain. As each WebApp covers large geographic areas and a lot of data we have tried to make it easier for you to explore and load in your browser.

To aid load times and provide as smooth a user experience as possible we have included low and high detail versions of each layer, which toggle based on the zoom extent of the map. These include the same data, but the boundaries of the high detail layers are more precise than the low detail layers, meaning they take longer to load. We have removed the boundary lines between areas on the low detail layers to help you see the results at a national or regional level more clearly. Full discussion of the types of boundaries we use is available within the Technical Notes.

Mapping green space provision

What are the data sources for the Green Space Index?
In the May 2020 release of the Green Space Index we have used the April 2020 release of Open Greenspace data from Ordnance Survey. If you find any inaccuracies whilst browsing the OS Greenspace product you can report these using the contact form on the OS website, selecting "Map errors and omissions". We use population projection data provided by Geolytix. Further information on this is available in the Technical Notes.

How do you know the minimum standard of provision?
We have based the Index on our Guidance for Outdoor Sport and Play which is well-established and respected across the industry having been first released in the 1930s. Our survey found 75% of local authorities adopt this or an equivalent standard. The Guidance gives benchmark standards for parks, playing fields, equipped play and informal green space per 1,000 people.

What is classed as publicly accessible local green space?
Local parks and green spaces which are open to the public for recreational use including parks and gardens, informal recreation spaces, children's playgrounds, formal sports areas such as multi-use games areas (MUGA), tennis courts and playing fields. More detailed discussion on typologies of land included is available within the Technical Notes.

What types of green space aren't included and why?
Before calculating the Green Space Index we make some changes to the data provided by Ordnance Survey, including removal of typologies which aren't included within the scope of our Index, such as national parks, common land, cemeteries and golf courses, as well as the elimination of any overlaps within the data to prevent any double-counting. Full detail on this is available within the Technical Notes.

Why don't you include Northern Ireland?
Ordnance Survey's scope only extends to Great Britain. Northern Ireland is served by a separate mapping agency - Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland - who have not as yet produced any mapping of publicly accessible parks and green spaces. If such data becomes available in the future then we will look to expand the Green Space Index to include Northern Ireland.

What is the GSI Score?
The GSI Score is our unique measure of green space provision. To compile the GSI Score we analyse provision of parks and play per 1,000 people and provision of outdoor sport facilities per 1,000 people against our benchmark guidelines to provide a score where 1 indicates a minimum level of provision is being met. This is just a minimum and of course we would always advocate for a GSI Score higher than 1 to ensure everyone within a community is well served by parks and green spaces.

Why is a ten-minute walk relevant?
A ten-minute walking distance is a well-established measure of an acceptable distance for a resident to be from their nearest park or green space. Calculating where and how many people are not served by a park or green space within a ten-minute walk can offer a useful addition to judging provision levels with overall quantity alone not capturing distribution of green space across communities. Further discussion on the merits of using ten-minute walk as a measure can be found in this article and more detail on how we have calculated these figures is available within the Technical Notes.

How do you calculate the results?
We calculate the results in the Green Space Index using the latest GIS software. We are grateful for the support of Esri UK whose ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online platforms we utilise through their non-profit programme. We were delighted that the May 2019 release of the Green Space Index was shortlisted in the analytical insights category at Esri UK's 2020 Customer Success Awards.

Why does a WebApp say I have more protected provision than overall provision in my local area?
In a very small number of cases an individual local area in a WebApp may give a figure for the protected provision of parks and green spaces which is higher than the figure for the total provision. There are two main reasons that this could be the case:

  • Our protection can be applied to any outdoor recreational land, so long as it meets certain basic criteria. As such, in some instances we may protect land which is not within the scope of Ordnance Survey's Greenspace product, thus the protected area of land would not be present in their product which we analyse to find total provision.
  • We do not currently have a fully digitised polygons of all green spaces which we protect. As such, when assigning protected green space to a local area we use the centre-point of the protected space. If the actual space crosses more than one local area then this would lead to some of the protected area being incorrectly assigned. We recognise that further work is needed on fully digitising our protected estate and we continue to seek funding to enable us to fully realise our ambitions in this regard. You can help by making a donation to support our work!