A Research Briefing has recently been published on Health and the natural environment. A review of evidence, policy, practice and opportunities for the future by Defra Author: Dr Rebecca Lovell, European Centre for the Environment and Human Health, University of Exeter Medical School .
The Research Briefing, evidence statement, and the full report (Defra Project Code BE0109) are available from the Department’s Science and Research Projects Database.
As a society we are facing epidemic levels of non-communicable disease, including heart and other circulatory diseases, diabetes type 2, and mental health disorders. Evidence is growing as to the potential of the natural environment to contribute to helping reduce the burden to health and social care systems. We now know that living in greener environments is associated with a range of more positive health outcomes and that the use of the natural environments as a setting for health promotion can be effective. Although the links between the natural environment and health outcomes are recognised, to some degree, in existing policy and practice at a range of scales there is a need to find ways in which decision makers can meaningfully act on the evidence of benefit.
This study focused on the interconnections between natural environments and health, and the ways in which these are, or could be harnessed in policy, service delivery and practice.
The aims of the work were to:
- clarify what is known about the linkages between natural environments and good health, to characterise how different social groups understand the health potential of the natural environment, and to examine the factors that may facilitate or prevent the realisation of those benefits;
- evaluate how evidence relating to the linkages between natural environments and health is recognised, taken into account by, and incorporated into existing policy and practice; and
- identify effective and promising opportunities to act on the potential of natural environments to promote better health.
For more information contact R.Lovell@exeter.ac.uk