A trust has led a national research project which shows how improving people’s access to outdoor spaces could benefit health and wellbeing.

Ribble Rivers Trust led the project which will lead to health walks, community run micro-tree nurseries, outdoor volunteering opportunities and education programmes in the areas around Lancashire where communities are most in need.

The research completed by Ellie Brown, the Trust’s Strategic Evidence and Geographic Information System Manager, highlights the locations of health and wellbeing issues across England.

The online interactive map produced focuses on obesity, inactivity, and related illnesses including mental health issues, and the current level of access to green and blue spaces – outdoor spaces with greenery and water.

It was designed to help the trust and other organisations to identify opportunities where the creation of publicly accessible blue and green space, or improving people’s access to such spaces, could have the greatest benefit for health and wellbeing.

Ellie said: “It’s now very well documented and evidenced how access to blue and green space has a positive impact on health and wellbeing.

“And it is hoped that if people access the outdoors regularly, they’re more likely to appreciate it and look after it.”

Key areas of Lancashire struggling with health and wellbeing and lack of access to green and blue space were identified and include Hyndburn and Pendle, where a programme of wetland creation, grassland and heathland management, footpath improvements, and active volunteering will benefit local people as well as helping nature.

These areas also will be targeted for a series of health walks where tree seeds will be collected and planted in community-run micro tree nurseries to provide volunteering opportunities for people with limited fitness.

The project also involves woodland creation and training for local people in conservation skills such as ecological surveys, dry stone walling and hedge laying.

It received funding from the Catchment Based Approach, Natural Course and Lancashire County Council.