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Jersey has an extensive network of paths across public and private land to provide access to nature and which is used by an estimated 100,000 people a year including local walkers and tourists.


Research indicates that once in nature, people across ages and income groups are equally likely to engage in physical activity. In short – if you can get people into nature, they’ll use it to improve their health. And this suggests that if people can be encouraged to visit more often or that access to local natural environments can be improved, all sectors of society could benefit and could be more sustainable, than other forms of physical activity (e.g. gyms), for many individuals.


So nature is powerful and access to it can bring significant wellbeing benefits. Jersey has an extensive network of paths across public and private land to provide access to nature and which is used by an estimated 100,000 people a year including local walkers and tourists. The Department of the Environment’s Natural Environment Team manages 70 km of public access to the countryside, plus 5000 pieces of infrastructure such a bridges, benches and steps on the paths as well as 15 car parks.


The network was mainly established in the 1980s, primarily for walkers. Since then, Jersey’s population has increased and the narrow paths have become busier and used for a wider range of recreational activities.


Page 28 An Ageing Island


The Department recently published its Countryside Access Strategy www.gov.je which has committed new investment to improve and build resilience into the access network, as well as promoting engagement, co- operative working and greater awareness of what the countryside has to offer. It follows the findings of a consultation which asked people for detailed feedback on the Island’s coastal and countryside path network.


With this in mind and considering the need to promote greater wellbeing and healthier lifestyles, we should encourage all Islanders, including patients and the elderly or those reluctant to engage in formal exercise programmes, to recognise that just regular walks in the countryside can have meaningful benefits for their health. Clearly, the environment is worth protecting for its own sake, but by understanding and taking account of the value to health from various natural settings, we may also better justify efforts to protect these settings from development or disrepair, and continue to offer the public health benefits offered by the Island’s ‘natural health service’. In short, we all need to "get out more" and appreciate our coast and countryside. After all, and for no other reason, it's good for our health!


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