Nature based interventions to promote health

On this page you can find evidence and resources relating to nature based interventions promote health. On the linked page you can find evidence on the general links between nature and health

Back to the Green Social Prescribing Resources home page.


James Fullam, Harriet Hunt, Rebecca Lovell, Kerryn Husk, Richard Byng, David Richards, Dan Bloomfield, Sara Warber, Mark Tarrant, Jenny Lloyd, Noreen Orr, Lorna Burns, Ruth Garside (2021) A handbook for Nature on Prescription to promote mental health. Version 1. University of Exeter.

An interactive model describing the evidence-based pathways between nature on prescription activities, the mechanisms of action and outcomes can be viewed here To read more about how nature on prescription activities relate to emotional, cognitive, physical and social outcomes download the full handbook A handbook for Nature on Prescription to promote mental health.

The Government’s 25 Year Plan for the Environment sets out it’s ambitions to develop green social prescribing


Garside R, Orr N, Short R, Lovell R, Husk K, McEachon R, Rashid R, Dickie I. (2021). Therapeutic Nature: Nature-based social prescribing for diagnosed mental health conditions in the UK: Final Report for Defra. Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs.

Lovell, R. et al (2020) What Works briefing on natural environment based health interventions. Report and summary for Defra.

Lovell, R. (2020) What Works in school based natural environment interventions. Report and summary for Defra.

Bagnall, A., Freeman, C., Southby, K., & Brymer, E. (2019). Social return on investment analysis of the health and wellbeing impacts of Wildlife Trust programmes. Leeds Beckett University: Leeds, UK.

Hunter, R., Cleary, A., Cleland, C., & Braubach, M. (2017). Urban green space interventions and health: A review of impacts and effectiveness. Full report. World Health Organization: Copenhagen, Denmark.

Bragg R, Atkins G. (2016) A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care. Natural England Commissioned Reports. 204:18.

Buck D. (2016) Gardens and health. Implications for policy and practice. London: King’s Fund.

Systematic reviews

Masterton, W., Carver, H., Parkes, T., & Park, K. (2020). Greenspace interventions for mental health in clinical and non-clinical populations: What works, for whom, and in what circumstances?. Health & Place, 64, 102338.

Yeo, N. L., Elliott, L. R., Bethel, A., White, M. P., Dean, S. G., & Garside, R. (2020). Indoor nature interventions for health and wellbeing of older adults in residential settings: A systematic review. The gerontologist, 60(3), e184-e199.

Hunter, R. F., Cleland, C., Cleary, A., Droomers, M., Wheeler, B. W., Sinnett, D., … & Braubach, M. (2019). Environmental, health, wellbeing, social and equity effects of urban green space interventions: A meta-narrative evidence synthesis. Environment international, 130, 104923.

Leavell, M. A., Leiferman, J. A., Gascon, M., Braddick, F., Gonzalez, J. C., & Litt, J. S. (2019). Nature-based social prescribing in urban settings to improve social connectedness and mental well-being: a review. Current environmental health reports, 6(4), 297-308.

Murray J, Wickramasekera N, Elings M, Bragg R, Brennan C, Richardson Z, Wright J, Llorente MG, Cade J, Shickle D, Tubeuf S. (2019) The impact of care farms on quality of life, depression and anxiety among different population groups: A systematic review. Campbell Systematic Reviews. 15(4):e1061.

Tillmann, S., Tobin, D., Avison, W., & Gilliland, J. (2018). Mental health benefits of interactions with nature in children and teenagers: A systematic review. J Epidemiol Community Health, 72(10), 958-966.

Cipriani, J., Benz, A., Holmgren, A., Kinter, D., McGarry, J., & Rufino, G. (2017). A systematic review of the effects of horticultural therapy on persons with mental health conditions. Occupational Therapy in Mental Health, 33(1), 47-69.

Husk, K., Lovell, R., Cooper, C., Stahl‐Timmins, W., & Garside, R. (2016). Participation in environmental enhancement and conservation activities for health and well‐being in adults: a review of quantitative and qualitative evidence. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, (5).

Roberts, H., McEachan, R., Margary, T., Conner, M., & Kellar, I. (2018). Identifying effective behavior change techniques in built environment interventions to increase use of green space: a systematic review. Environment and behavior, 50(1), 28-55.

Genter, C., Roberts, A., Richardson, J. and Sheaff, M., 2015. The contribution of allotment gardening to health and wellbeing: A systematic review of the literature. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 78(10), pp.593-605.

Lovell, R., Husk, K., Cooper, C., Stahl-Timmins, W., & Garside, R. (2015). Understanding how environmental enhancement and conservation activities may benefit health and wellbeing: a systematic review. BMC public health, 15(1), 1-18.

Hanson, S., & Jones, A. (2015). Is there evidence that walking groups have health benefits? A systematic review and meta-analysis. British journal of sports medicine, 49(11), 710-715.

Wang, Donna, and Thalia MacMillan. “The benefits of gardening for older adults: a systematic review of the literature.” Activities, Adaptation & Aging 37.2 (2013): 153-181.

Primary papers

Maund PR, Irvine KN, Reeves J, Strong E, Cromie R, Dallimer M, Davies ZG (2019) Wetlands for wellbeing: Piloting a nature-based health intervention for the management of anxiety and depression. International journal of environmental research and public health. 16(22):4413.

Willis, K., Crabtree, B., Osman, L. M., & Cathrine, K. (2016). Green space and health benefits: A QALY and CEA of a mental health programme. Journal of Environmental Economics and Policy, 5(2), 163-180.

Wilson, N. W., Jones, R., Fleming, S., Lafferty, K., Knifton, L., Cathrine, K., & McNish, H. (2011). Branching out: The impact of a mental health ecotherapy program. Ecopsychology, 3(1), 51-57.

Case studies and project reports

Avon Wildlife Trust (2021) Wellbeing with Nature. Project report


You can find further papers from the University of Exeter team on the ‘Published Papers’ pages of the blog.

Back to the Green Social Prescribing Resources home page.

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