People from all walks of life place a high value on access to nature and green space, with only 5% of adults saying that it has never been important to them (The Ramblers, 2020).

Visits to urban parks account for over a third of all visits to the natural environment, underlining the importance of these local spaces for health and exercise, relaxation, spending time with friends and family and a whole range of other activities.  94% of adults who had visited a green and natural space in the previous 14 days agreed that spending time outdoors was good for them (Natural England, 2023).

However, there is a great deal of research suggesting opportunities to experience these benefits aren’t always accessible to everyone.  Some of these barriers are systemic – there simply aren’t enough good green spaces in some of our most densely populated, and most disadvantaged, areas.  Some are practical – without level paths, toilets, benches and other facilities green spaces will not be accessible to some people with health conditions, mobility issues or disabilities.  Some are social and cultural linked to whether spaces are seen as relevant or safe.   We know that people from Black and Asian backgrounds visit green spaces less than White people[1] and that teenage girls are much less likely to use facilities in parks than teenage boys[2].

If you don’t feel safe, comfortable and welcomed in your community, you won’t feel safe, comfortable and welcomed in your local green spaces.

For members of the LGBTQ+ community, this inequity of access can be overt – it was only in 2013 that the Boy Scouts of America, known for their outdoor activity programmes, rescinded their ban on members identifying as gay or queer – or more subtle, linked to other people’s reactions and perceptions and a lack of representation in the staff and group leaders who support outdoor activities.

Joanna, 17, is a member of Groundwork’s Youth Advisory Board, and feels more needs to be done to create safer, accessible and inclusive spaces. 

As a young LGBTQ+ person who’s thrown themselves into nature loving organisations, it’s been refreshing and almost encouraging to find so many people who identify in the same way, or similarly, to how I do. I’ve found great comfort in these environments because it feels safer to express my experiences of nature, my barriers to accessing nature or my love of it. I call for all youth organisations to create these safe spaces and to include more of us!

As a new generation of environmental leaders emerges LGBTQ+ members are helping the organisations they work and volunteer for to increase their visibility, promote outdoor activities to a more diverse audience, and provide a platform for people of all backgrounds to get their voices heard on the need to improve access to nature for everyone.

Ben, 24, is a trainee on Groundwork’s New to Nature programme, which, with support from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, is providing year-long waged work placements in a range of environmental organisations for young people from backgrounds that are currently under-represented in the sector.

As someone who grew up in a working class, urban town – I know first-hand, the awe some of these children experience when they step foot into the sun-dappled forest and the joy they experience cooking for themselves. A project I’ve always wanted to start up is getting LGBTQ+ people in particular out in nature. As a queer trans man myself, I’ve often felt alone when I’ve tried to get involved with local nature initiatives or join local walking groups. As a community, it would be great to create a network where we can meet up with a shared interest and find joy not only in ourselves but the world around us.

Addressing these barriers will require those responsible for the design and management of our parks and green spaces to work together more effectively and more closely with the communities they exist to benefit.  Effective community engagement needs to lead to genuine community empowerment so that more people from a more diverse range of backgrounds have a stake in what happens in their local area.

Helping those people who need it most connect with nature is a key priority for Groundwork and we’re committed to tackling injustice and the environmental crisis by embedding sustainability, equity, and inclusion in the work we do and the way we work. 

Blog by Anna Short, Communications & Partnerships Assistant on behalf of the EDI group.

[1] Included outside: Engaging people from ethnic minority backgrounds in nature – TIN185 (

[2] Make Space for Girls

Notes to Editors

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About Groundwork

Groundwork is a federation of charities with a collective mission to take practical action to create a fair and green future in which people, places, and nature thrive. We support communities and businesses to build capacity and resilience in order to tackle hardship, achieve a just transition to net-zero and help nature recover in a way that reduces inequality and leads to healthier, happier lives for all: