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. It is the first time such a measure has been created to take stock of the quantity of local park provision across Great Britain.

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 level 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 have 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 will be updating the Green Space Index annually each May.

Has this been done before?
This is the first time that publicly accessible local parks and green spaces have been mapped and analysed in this way. It is only now that we have been able to analyse data on park and green space provision because of the production of a national Greenspace map by Ordnance Survey. It has never been possible to track how much green space has been lost to development, for example, but future iterations of the Green Space Index will enable us to analyse those types of trends over time.

What is likely to change in the future?
We know that populations in urban areas are projected to grow and this will negatively impact on the quantity of green space available to communities. We also know that parks are at crisis point and the lack of funding and statutory protection are compounding the issues facing our parks. We will always use the latest available datasets in future iterations. Population data will remain constant until the results of the 2021 census are released, at which point we will see these impact on the results of most indices.

Mapping green space provision

What data have you used to create the Index?
The Green Space Index has been made possible by the publication of a national Greenspace map by Ordnance Survey. This is released as open data meaning it is available for everyone to download and explore. OS release updates to the map in April and October every year. 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".

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. 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.

Do you have any more detailed analysis of an area?
Alongside the Green Space Index we will be publishing a series of more detailed reports at county-level exploring park and green space provision and its cross-cutting impact on a range of local policy areas. We will be publishing these Green Space Analyses at regular intervals.

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 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. Full discussion of the types of boundaries we use is available within the Technical Notes.