We’ve recently published two key papers from the Beyond Greenspace project. As part of the project we also made a short film to discuss what the project is about, and the wider context in which it sits. Grab some popcorn and watch the film, then have a read about some of the key findings from the project…
Beyond Greenspace: Environmental Indicators and Population Health from the Census
This study, published in the International Journal of Health Geographics – available open access here – describes how we pulled together different environmental datasets, and created indicators that we could analyse with health data. Read more about the study in this blog post.
What Accounts for ‘England’s green and pleasant land’?
This study, published here in Landscape and Urban Planning combined some of the environmental indicators with the British Household Panel Survey, focusing on people living in rural areas. You can read more about the study here.
So what does it all mean?
The easy option is just to say ‘it’s complicated’. Which is true – and in some ways that’s the point of the Beyond Greenspace project. There is a growing volume of scientific evidence showing that ‘greenspace’ is potentially an important resource for our health and wellbeing. But to truly capitalise on this opportunity, we need to make sure that we understand properly which natural environments are beneficial, for who, and in what context?
The findings from these studies support the general argument that natural environments support and promote good health and wellbeing – but also that different types and qualities of environment matter. Importantly, they suggest that higher quality environments (as indicated by e.g. protected area status) may be more beneficial – but we need to do more research to investigate this thoroughly.
Environmental and public health policies increasingly recognise the links (e.g. there’s an indicator in the Public Health Outcomes Framework). The more we can generate evidence properly reflecting the nuances and subtleties of these interconnections, the better chance we have of implementing policies and programmes that will capitalise on opportunities to protect and improve public health and wellbeing as well as our precious natural environments.
Thanks to Sideways for doing a great job with the film.