Young people are often under-represented within nature and the conservation sector - and many young people perceive spending time in nature or getting involved in nature based activities as something that's not easy to do. Jessica and Chloe explore this topic and the reasons behind it deeper through photos.

Perception or Reality - Accessing Green Spaces in London by Jessica Edwards

London is considered to be the greenest city in the UK with 47% of Greater London being ‘green and blue space’ (Greenspace Information for Greater London CIC, 2019). However, for many young people in the city it can be easy not to realise how much green space is available especially for those who live, work or study in the business districts of inner London. This is especially exacerbated as younger individuals are likely to live in flats without a personal garden.

The view from Alexandra Palace shows this as although the park itself is green the view of the city is mainly housing and business rather than expanses of green. Therefore it can be easy to perceive access to green space as being difficult and requiring one to leave the city to get to the countryside.

The perception of requiring access to a vehicle, something many young Londoners do not have, isn’t always far from the truth either. Bus routes are primarily located around built up areas. The difference can be enormous, with only one bus route visiting Alexandra Palace but several reaching the business district of London. Therefore, if direct access is required to green space with little to no walking, the accessibility of these areas are hugely diminished unless a vehicle is used.

The bus stop shows the inequality of access via bus routes to green spaces compared to built up areas as well as how busy the car parks for green spaces can be, showing how entrenched the idea is that cars are the only way to access green space due to the perceived distance to green spaces in London. With only 54% of London households having access to a car (TFL, 2013) this can make access to green spaces seem to be aimed at car drivers but not to those who require public transport.

Outside, not aside – How young people are reclaiming their presence in London’s greenspaces by Chloe Ly

My chosen issue was that of perceived access and exclusion. Many young people may be hesitant to engage within their local green spaces because they feel as if they need to have a particular outdoor activity to enjoy nature without judgement, which doesn’t have to be the case.

I think it is important to bring this issue to the attention of the public for a number of reasons. Firstly, it will be beneficial for young people as they may be able to relate to the issue. Seeing the photos may encourage them to delve into the reasons why they feel excluded from entering green spaces and hopefully provide them with inspiration on how to break this barrier. Secondly, highlighting this issue particularly to the older population, may be useful in breaking down stereotypes and changing the public perception of youth in green spaces. The issue has been raised that youth feel judged as ‘loitering’ for being out in nature – here I want to demonstrate that their presence is a positive thing.

I used a mix of negative and positive angles to tell the story. The absence of a person in this picture may also be interpreted as an indicator that young people are leaving behind their technology to go explore outside.

A young person is reading outside, and another talking and engaging with others. Spending time in green spaces does not require any equipment or activities, showing how accessible it is!

This piece was created by Jessica Edwards and Chloe Ly during our online delivery of the Wild Action Programme with the London Wildlife Trust. The Wild Action Programme is one strand of the Keeping It Wild ProjectThis project is funded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund and this particular activity strand was supported by the George Bairstow Charitable Trust.

Banner image taken by Jessica Edwards.