From our online media training workshops, young people on the Keeping It Wild traineeship discussed the existing issues facing young Londoners and nature that became even more prominent during the coronavirus lockdowns over 2020/2021. One key issue that was raised was 'green poverty', which has been explained and unpicked by one of the young people here.

groups that are typically excluded from or deprived of green-space will suffer lasting consequences from this inequality

Green poverty is a phrase that I am defining as an unequal access to space relating to demographic and socio-economic factors. Housing is often primary focus of social issues and where we live, but ignored in this conversation is not just inequality in our indoor space, but our outdoor space too.

With the limited discussion, what there is focuses mostly on public spaces (which have been in a steady rapid decline, especially affecting London where, due to property developers, land prices are highly competitive which leads to the building over of a lot of public outdoor spaces) but ignores unequal distribution and factors surrounding private gardens, especially rising in importance in the lockdown.

In London, while the city is largely made up of green space, 24% is garden land, but this is not equally distributed. The number of new homes without a garden has risen 44% in the last 20 years, leaving 1 in 5 homes in London not having a garden. This tends to affect communities of colour, with higher populations in inner city areas and more densely populated boroughs, which typically have more properties without gardens/smaller garden space. It also affect groups with lower economic income, which intersecting with demographic factors tends to have higher percentage in communities of colour, and also tend to have smaller green public spaces and be more densely built up.

Government studies, and various academic resources indicate that time in nature and natural environments is an essential factor in mental and physical health and wellbeing overall. So through unequal access to green space, be it private or public, groups that are typically excluded from or deprived of green-space will suffer lasting consequences from this inequality.

With the pandemic and now entering another lockdown the shift in how we are able to spend our time has an even bigger impact. With most people now spending the majority of their time indoors for the third time this year, the inability to even access a green space at all has been further reduced. People across London not having access to an equal distribution of public green-spaces and being restricted from travelling borough to borough are even more disenfranchised from being able to connect with green and wild spaces. 

An even more profound impact this has is on developmental factors in children and young people, [where it is] proven to be a detriment to focus and productivity for younger people who require this kind of stimulation for their overall wellbeing. Green-space is shown by research to be vital for children and young people in mental and physical health, cognitive development, as well as broader neurological factors and overall grater resilience.

This piece was created by a young person who wished to remain anonymous, during the Keeping It Wild Traineeship with London Wildlife Trust. The traineeship 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 Tallow Chandlers.