Defra Evidence Statement on the links between natural environments and human health

Department_for_Environment_Food_and_Rural_Affairs_logo.svg-e1495117544676.pngWorking with Dr Simon Maxwell of the Department of Environment Food and Rural Affairs‘s Environment Analysis Unit, we have co-authored a comprehensive Evidence Statement on the links between natural environments and human health. The aim of the evidence statement is to inform Defra’s policies and service delivery.

You can download a copy of the full Evidence Statement on the links between natural environments and human health or a set of summary slides.

The statement addresses:

  • the direct and indirect linkages between natural environments and health,
  • variation in impact between social groups,
  • the importance of the type and quality of the natural environment,
  • dose-response relationships,
  • the effectiveness of different intervention options,
  • the monetary values of benefits, and
  • key evidence gaps.

Importantly the statement also considers the implications of the evidence base for current and future policy and delivery.

The review shows that there is now a substantial and increasingly robust evidence base which supports the growing interest in using the natural environment to promote good health and wellbeing.


The statement concludes:

…the evidence highlights a need for more integrated policy and delivery across the health and natural environment sectors at a wide range of spatial scales. Integrated policy and delivery is also required to help recognise and take account of multiple benefits. Even if the health benefits of a particular form of contact with nature are small, public investment may still be justified if there are benefits across a wide range of other policy domains. There is a need to learn lessons from other sectors and wider evidence on influencing behaviours and securing transitions across systems. Policy and delivery should aim to encourage and enable people and organisations to behave differently to improve health outcomes and benefit the natural environment.

Maxwell, S & Lovell, R. (2017) Evidence Statement on the links between natural environments and human health. Defra and University of Exeter Medical School.



  1. […] now have a relatively robust body of evidence which has demonstrated that spending time in greener environments is associated with better health […]

  2. […] is a substantial evidence base to support using nature to enhance wellbeing, particularly within urban settings. However, when it […]

  3. […] the evidence base for the benefits of natural environments is relatively well established, less is known about the specific benefits of blue spaces. Blue spaces are ‘outdoor […]

  4. […] population based, natural experimental approach, we hope to address shortcomings in the existing evidence base by adding detail on the quality, type, size, location, function and uses of green and blue spaces. […]

  5. […] The toolkit will help put a value on protecting, maintaining and creating  green spaces, such as parks, gardens, street trees, rivers and canals. All of these are vitally important for quality of life, physical and mental health in urban areas, s…. […]

  6. […] The final report and research briefing for Becca’s fellowship with Defra have been published. An associated evidence statement was published earlier. […]

  7. […] greenspaces can contribute for some time, most recently alongside Defra, where we comprehensively reviewed the evidence linking greenspaces to health outcomes. Robust studies from across the world have shown […]

  8. […] University of Exeter research linking ecological, socioeconomic and health data to deepen our understanding of relationships between nature, health and wellbeing READ MORE […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: