What Works briefings on natural environment and health or educational interventions for Defra

A few years ago we produced two What Works briefings on natural environment and health or educational interventions for Defra. These reports followed on from the earlier work we did for the Department and related closely to the content and delivery of the Government’s A Green Future: Our 25 Year Plan to Improve the Environment strategy. The two reports were published recently.

The reports were produced in 2017-19 and were brief, non-systematic reviews of evidence on what works. More details and links to the reports and briefings can be found below or the reports can be found on the Department’s science site.

The first report ‘What Works briefing on natural environment based health interventions‘ focused on natural environment based health interventions; environment based activity which aims to promote good health and prevent poor health (at a population, community or individual level), or in relation to the use of the environment as a therapeutic setting. The review considered what works in a) enhancing the health potential of urban greenspace; b) for deprived and disadvantaged groups; and c) in relation to children and young people’s nature based physical activity.

We considered what works in design, delivery and evaluation of natural environment based health interventions. This included: the extent and nature of delivery, key funding mechanisms, and achieving sustainability; examples of good and promising practice in natural environment based health interventions; and what is needed to improve our understanding of what works in nature based health interventions.

The second report ‘What Works in school based natural environment interventions‘ focused on identifying what works in the design and delivery of schools-based activities which facilitate contact with the natural environment and which are used to, or which may plausibly promote health, wellbeing and a number of other academic and environmental outcomes in children and young people. The review had a particular focus on mental health outcomes and on disadvantaged children and settings.

The aim of the review was to support the delivery of the three objectives of Defra’s Children and Nature policy programme. The three objectives of the policy are to 1) support approximately 500 target schools to establish either greener school grounds or to deliver a programme of progressive regular off-site visits in natural environments; 2) enable school staff to deliver the quality and range of activities needed to support delivery of benefits for children’s mental health & wellbeing, their engagement with learning and other programme outcomes; and 3) gather evidence to complete project monitoring and project reporting and to support the programme evaluation.

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