Society:
Our healthy environment supports a fairer, healthier, more inclusive society

Last updated: 01 April 2022

This outcome is about the transformative changes to our society needed to play Scotland’s role in tackling the climate and nature crises. It is also about the fundamental role of a healthy environment in supporting the health and wellbeing of Scotland’s people; and the positive social outcomes created through the just transition to a net -zero, sustainable society, including the creation of quality jobs and promotion of fairness and environmental justice.

Here we report three indicators that help us to monitor progress towards this outcome: outdoor visits, access to green and blue space, and active travel. The indicators highlight the challenges in enabling everyone to access Scotland’s natural environment and the benefits it provides.

In Scotland, an increasing number of people are visiting the outdoors for recreation and deriving benefits from outdoor exercise. However, there are known environmental inequalities. For example, population groups with poorer access to green and blue spaces derive fewer of the health and wellbeing benefits from spending time in nature. There is less greenspace in deprived urban areas and people from deprived areas are less likely to visit the outdoors. Evidence suggests that the biodiversity of green and blue space may also be lower in less affluent areas, due to a combination of design and maintenance.

As the Monitoring Framework is further developed, we will explore the scope for additional indicators to measure progress towards this outcome, reflecting: the ways in which a healthy environment and access to nature supports positive social outcomes e.g. for fairness, health, wellbeing and education. We will also explore additional indicators reflecting Scotland’s progress in improving the sustainability of our society, including the environmental impact of our lifestyles.



Visits to the outdoors

Indicator Updated: 04 November 2021

Headline: The proportion of people making visits to the outdoors has increased since 2006.

Source: Scottish Household Survey. Data for this chart can be downloaded from the Data Source page.

This National Statistics indicator uses data from the annual Scottish Household Survey and reports the proportion of adults making one or more visits to the outdoors per week. Find out more about the visits to the outdoors indicator.

Over the past decade there has been an increase in the number of people making weekly outdoor visits.

The data does, however, show important differences in outdoor recreation about participation in outdoor recreation. Adults who reported their health to be good or very good are much more likely to visit the outdoors once a week than adults who report their health to be bad or very bad. Similarly adults aged 75+ were less likely to visit the outdoors at least once a week compared to younger age groups. Adults living in less deprived areas were also more likely to visit the outdoors weekly than those living in more deprived areas.

Further details on these breakdowns can be viewed on the Equality Evidence Finder.

Please note that figures for 2020 were published 28/1/22 but are not included in the chart as they are not comparable with earlier years. Information on the incomparability is available in the Technical Hub.




Access to green & blue space

Indicator Updated: 04 November 2021

Headline: There has been little change in access to green and blue space since 2013.

Source: Scottish Household Survey. Data for this chart can be downloaded from the Data Source page.

This National Statistics indicator uses data from the annual Scottish Household Survey and reports the proportion of adults who live within a 5 minute walk of their local green or blue space. Find out more about the access to green and blue space indicator.

In 2019, 66% of adults lived within a 5 minute walk of their nearest green or blue space. There has been no significant change since the baseline year of 2013.

The data does, however, show important differences in access to green and blue space. People living in the most deprived areas are less likely to live within a 5 minute walk of their nearest greenspace than people in less deprived areas. This observation has been consistent over the time series the data has been collected.

In 2019, those in the 75+ age group were less likely to live within a 5 minute walk of the nearest greenspace compared to younger age groups.

There was also a marked difference by ethnicity, with 66% of those from the white ethnic group reporting living within a five 5 minute walk of the nearest greenspace, compared to 46% of those from ethnic minorities.

Those responding as having no religion or as Christian were also more likely to live within 5 minutes of a greenspace compared to those belonging to another religion.

Further details on these breakdowns are available in the Scottish Household Survey Data Explorer.

Please note that figures for 2020 were published 28/1/22 but are not included in the chart as they are not comparable with earlier years. Information on the incomparability is available in the Technical Hub.




Active travel

Indicator Updated: 04 November 2021

Headline: The proportion of journeys made on foot and by bike has been stable since 2012.

Walking

Cycling

Source: Scottish Household Survey analysed and published by Transport Scotland. Data for this chart can be downloaded from the Data Source page.

This National Statistics indicator uses data from the annual Scottish Household Survey and reports the proportion of short journeys less than 2 miles that are made by walking and the proportion of journeys under 5 miles made by cycling. Find out more about the active travel indicator.

Since 2012, there has been little change in both the proportion of journeys under 2 miles made on foot and the proportion of journeys under 5 miles made by bike. The data does, however, show important differences about access to transport and use of active travel. Over the past few years people living in the most deprived areas in Scotland have generally made a larger proportion of their short journeys by walking compared with those living in the least deprived areas. However, it is those living in the least deprived areas that make the largest proportion of short trips by bike.

Further details on these breakdowns can be viewed on the Equality Evidence Finder.

Please note that figures for 2020 were published 28/1/22 but are not included in the chart as they are not comparable with earlier years. Information on the incomparability is available in the Technical Hub.