Expanding access to nature – allotments and woodlands

Expanding access to nature - allotments and woodlands

Both allotments and small woodlands bring owners closer to nature and lead to personal fulfilment.  Whilst the number of woodland owners is increasing rapidly we wanted to explore why the number of allotment owners isn't increasing.  So Erica Douglas* of woodlands.co.uk undertook a study of the history of allotment ownership and how the numbers of allotments couhld be increased.  She found that allotment expansion is very constrained by the ability of local authorities to find suitable land and that, if anything, many existing allotments are under threat of being closed by the pressure on local councils to find new building land.

https://www.woodlands.co.uk/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/Allotments.pdfErica found that allotment gardening fulfils many of the same goals as ownership of small woodlands - both of them help with physical and mental wellbeing, they get people away from screens, help create friendships and a hands-on project often helps build intergenerational relationships.  Use of allotments creates other benefits - a reduction in food miles as owners grow some of their own vegetables and a healthier diet as allotment vegetables are usually organic and allotment gardeners eat what they've grown.

Allotment ownership reached peaks during the first and second world wars but declined in recent years until early in the new century when public interest was revived.  The result was that waiting list for allotments increased, but actual provision of allotments hasn't matched the increased demand.  Allotment provision is very variable around the country.  Apart from the pressure on land for building of new housing, there is another practical problem - even privately owned land of low value which adjoins residential areas is unlikely to be made available because of its "hope value" -  owners hope that one day the land can be developed and will be worth much more.

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