ArticlePDF AvailableLiterature Review

Healthy Nature Healthy People: ‘Contact with Nature’ as an Upstream Health Promotion Intervention for Populations

  • Adventure Works Pty Ltd

Abstract and Figures

Whilst urban-dwelling individuals who seek out parks and gardens appear to intuitively understand the personal health and well-being benefits arising from 'contact with nature', public health strategies are yet to maximize the untapped resource nature provides, including the benefits of nature contact as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. This paper presents a summary of empirical, theoretical and anecdotal evidence drawn from a literature review of the human health benefits of contact with nature. Initial findings indicate that nature plays a vital role in human health and well-being, and that parks and nature reserves play a significant role by providing access to nature for individuals. Implications suggest contact with nature may provide an effective population-wide strategy in prevention of mental ill health, with potential application for sub-populations, communities and individuals at higher risk of ill health. Recommendations include further investigation of 'contact with nature' in population health, and examination of the benefits of nature-based interventions. To maximize use of 'contact with nature' in the health promotion of populations, collaborative strategies between researchers and primary health, social services, urban planning and environmental management sectors are required. This approach offers not only an augmentation of existing health promotion and prevention activities, but provides the basis for a socio-ecological approach to public health that incorporates environmental sustainability.
Content may be subject to copyright.
Health Promotion International, Vol. 21 No. 1 Ó The Author (2005). Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.
doi:10.1093/heapro/dai032 For Permissions, please email:
Advance access publication 22 December 2005
Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’
as an upstream health promotion intervention for
Affiliated with the NiCHE Research Team (Nature in Community, Health and Environment)
of the School of Health and Social Development, Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia
Whilst urban-dwelling individuals who seek out parks and
gardens appear to intuitively understand the personal
health and well-being benefits arising from ‘contact with
nature’, public health strategies are yet to maximize the
untapped resource nature provides, including the benefits
of nature contact as an upstream health promotion interven-
tion for populations. This paper presents a summary of
empirical, theoretical and anecdotal evidence drawn from
a literature review of the human health benefits of contact
with nature. Initial findings indicate that nature plays a
vital role in human health and well-being, and that
parks and nature reserves play a significant role by
providing access to nature for individuals. Implications
suggest contact with nature may provide an effective
population-wide strategy in prevention of mental ill health,
with potential application for sub-populations, communit-
ies and individuals at higher risk of ill health. Recommenda-
tions include further investigation of ‘contact with nature’ in
population health, and examination of the benefits of
nature-based interventions. To maximize use of ‘contact
with nature’ in the health promotion of populations, collab-
orative strategies between researchers and primary health,
social services, urban planning and environmental manage-
ment sectors are required. This approach offers not only an
augmentation of existing health promotion and prevention
activities, but provides the basis for a socio-ecological
approach to public health that incorporates environmental
Key words: nature; health promotion; mental health; ecological health
Humans have spent many thousands of years
adapting to natural environments, yet have only
inhabited urban ones for relatively few genera-
tions (Glendinning 1995; Roszak et al., 1995;
Suzuki 1997; Gullone 2000). Whilst modern
‘westernization’ has doubled our life expectancy,
it has also created disparities between ancient and
present ways of living that may have paved the
way for the emergence of new serious diseases.
‘As more people survive to older age, and as pat-
terns of living, consuming and environmental
exposures change, so non-communicable diseases
such as coronary heart disease, diabetes and
cancer have come to dominate’ [McMichael,
2001 (p. 2)]. Further, mental, behavioural and
social health problems are seen to be an increas-
ing health burden in all parts of the world
(Desjarlais et al., 1995).
According to the World Bank and the World
Health Organization, mental health disorders
currently constitute 10% of the global burden
of disease (Victorian Health Promotion Foun-
dation, 2005). In Australia, depression costs the
economy AUD$3.3 billion in lost productivity
each year (Beyondblue, 2005). Estimates suggest
by the year 2020 mental health disorders will rise
to 15% of the global burden of disease and depres-
sion alone will constitute one of the largest health
problems worldwide (Murray and Lopez, 1996).
More than ever, nations require effective and
integrated strategies for promoting health in
whole populations. In light of such trends, public
health strategies need to closely investigate the
social and physical habitats of urban populations,
and examine ‘ecological’ solutions alongside
specific behavioural, clinical and technological
interventions (McMichael, 2001). This paper
examines the potential use of human contact
with nature as an effective and affordable health
promotion intervention for populations. The
evidence invites us to ‘look outside’ for solutions
to this global contemporary health epidemic.
In the last few hundred years, there has been
an extraordinary disengagement of humans
from the natural environment (Axelrod and
Suedfeld, 1995; Beck and Katcher, 1996; Katcher
and Beck, 1987). This is mostly due to the enorm-
ous shift of people away from rural areas into cit-
ies (Katcher and Beck, 1987). In evolutionary
terms, ‘the urban environment is a spontaneous,
changeable and historically unfamiliar habitat’
[McMichael, 2001 (p. 252)]. Never in history
have humans spent so little time in physical
contact with animals and plants, and the con-
sequences are unknown (Katcher and Beck,
1987). Already, some research has shown that
too much artificial stimulation and an existence
spent in purely human environments may cause
exhaustion and produce a loss of vitality and
health (Katcher and Beck, 1987; Stilgoe, 2001).
Modern society, by its very essence, insulates
people from outdoor environmental stimuli
(Stilgoe, 2001) and regular contact with nature
(Katcher and Beck, 1987). Some believe humans
may not be fully adapted to an urban existence
(Kellert and Wilson, 1993; Glendinning, 1995;
Kellert, 1997; Burns, 1998; McMichael, 2001).
With parks and public nature reserves often
their only means of accessing nature, the majority
of urban-dwelling individuals may have all but
forgotten their connections with the natural
Whilst medical technology continues to
improve the capacity of nations to combat the
global infectious disease burden, public health
strategies struggle to cope with the rapid changes
industrialization and urbanization have meant.
Human, community and cultural well-being has
suffered as a result. Traditional models of public
health appear ill prepared for the new reality of
health risks posed to populations. This has led to a
reconsideration of the interdependence between
people, their health, and their physical and social
environments (Kickbusch, 1989a).
For the purposes of this paper, nature is defined
as an organic environment where the majority of
ecosystem processes are present (e.g. birth, death,
reproduction, relationships between species).
This includes the spectrum of habitats from wil-
derness areas to farms and gardens. Nature also
refers to any single element of the natural envir-
onment (such as plants, animals, soil, water or
air), and includes domestic and companion anim-
als as well as cultivated pot plants. Nature can also
refer collectively to the geological, evolutionary,
biophysical and biochemical processes that have
occurred throughout time to create the Earth as it
is today. Parks are public natural environments,
spaces reserved for their natural or cultural qual-
ities, usually owned, managed and administered
by public institutions. Parks are utilized for a
range of purposes, including for conservation,
recreation and education. In urban settings,
parks are seen to provide the most ready access
to nature for many individuals. This paper focuses
on the benefits of contact with nature in park
environments for urban-dwelling individuals,
and explores the potential of contact with
nature for the promotion of health for whole
The Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion
identified the importance of environments sup-
portive of health, stating that the inextricable
links between people and their environment
are the basis for a socio-ecological approach to
health (World Health Organization, 1986). The
Charter advocates for protection of natural and
built environments, and conservation of natural
resources as essential in any health promotion
strategy. The central theme was promotion of
health by maximizing the health values of every-
day settings. Everyday settings include, for
example, where people learn, live, work, play, etc.
(World Health Organization, 1986). An emerging
question might be therefore whether the majority
of urban-dwelling individuals currently utilize
parks and nature reserves as ‘everyday settings’.
Studies in disciplines of ecology, biology, psy-
chology and psychiatry have attempted to
46 C. Maller et al.
empirically examine the human relationship with
the natural world, some concluding that as well as
being totally dependent on nature for material
needs (food, water, shelter, etc.) humans also
need nature for psychological, emotional and
spiritual needs (Wilson, 1984; Katcher and Beck,
1987; Friedmann and Thomas, 1995; Roszak et al.,
1995; Frumkin, 2001; Wilson, 2001). Yet how
dependent humans are on nature for psycholo-
gical and well-being needs, and what benefits
can be gained from interacting with nature are
just beginning to be investigated.
The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare
identifies seven dimensions within holistic health
and well-being, including: biological and mental
well-being, social well-being, economic well-
being, environmental well-being, life satisfaction,
spiritual or existential well-being, and ‘other
characteristics valued by humans’ (Australian
Institute of Health and Welfare, 1998). Whilst a
growing body of evidence has demonstrated
the importance of social relationships (and social
capital) for health, the relationship between
environmental health and human health remains
little understood. As Brown states, sustainable
ecosystems in these dimensions of human health
need greater attention and exploration, as well
as inclusion and emphasis in the knowledge
base of public health (Brown, 1996).
‘People with access to nearby natural settings
have been found to be healthier overall than other
individuals. The longer-term, indirect impacts (of
‘nearby nature’) also include increased levels of
satisfaction with one’s home, one’s job and with
life in general’ [Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989 (p. 173)].
When parks were first designed in the nine-
teenth century, city officials had a strong belief
in the possible health advantages that would
result from open space (Hamilton-Smith and
Mercer, 1991; Rohde and Kendle, 1997). It was
hoped that parks would reduce disease, crime,
and social unrest as well as providing ‘green
lungs’ for the city, and areas for recreation
(Rohde and Kendle, 1997). These assumptions
were used as justification for providing parks
and other natural areas in cities, and preserving
wilderness areas outside of cities for public use
(Parsons, 1991; Ulrich, 1993).
Contact with nature in an urban park environ-
ment may be experienced via various means,
including viewing natural scenes, being in natural
settings, encountering plants and animals,
participating in recreational activities, undertak-
ing environmental conservation work, and parti-
cipating in nature-based therapy programmes,
amongst others. Although the study upon
which this paper is based included an examination
of the human health benefits of observing plants
and animals, this review focuses on ‘everyday’
interactions with nature in a park setting by
urban populations including: (1) viewing natural
scenes; and (2) being in natural environments.
Also provided is a summary of current knowledge
based on current anecdotal, theoretical and
empirical evidence. Only those human relation-
ships with animals and plants where no economic
benefit is to be gained from the relationship are
Viewing natural scenes
The healing effects of a natural view are increas-
ingly being understood in stressful environments
such as hospitals, nursing homes, remote military
sites, space ships and space stations (Lewis, 1996).
In these environments particularly, as well as for
people who work in windowless offices, studies
show that seeing nature is important to people
and is an effective means of relieving stress and
improving well-being (Kaplan, 1992a; Lewis,
1996; Leather et al., 1998).
A study examining recovery rates of patients
who underwent gall bladder surgery found that
those with a natural view recovered faster,
spent less time in hospital, had better evaluation
from nurses, required fewer painkillers and had
less postoperative complications compared with
those that viewed an urban scene (Ulrich,
1984). Similarly, Ulrich and colleagues studied
the effects of different natural and urban scenes
on subjects who had just watched a stressful film
(horror genre) (Ulrich et al., 1991b). Measuring a
whole array of physiological measures [including
heart rate, skin conductance, muscle tension and
pulse transit time (a non-invasive measure that
correlates with systolic blood pressure)] they
found that recovery was faster and more com-
plete when subjects were exposed to natural
rather than urban scenes (Ulrich et al., 1991b).
The physiological data measured by this study
suggests that natural settings elicit a response
that includes a component of the parasympathetic
Contact with nature in upstream health promotion 47
nervous system associated with the restoration of
physical energy (Ulrich et al., 1991a).
Research conducted in prison environments
suggests that cell window views of nature are
associated with a lower frequency of stress symp-
toms in inmates, including digestive illnesses
and headaches, and with fewer sick calls overall
by prisoners (Moore, 1981). Tennessen and
Cimprich gave university students a test and
compared scores of students who had natural
views to those that had did not (Tennessen and
Cimprich, 1995). They found that those with a
view of nature scored better on the test than
those with non-natural views.
Research suggests access to nature in the
workplace is related to lower levels of perceived
job stress and higher levels of job satisfaction
(Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989). Workers with a
view of trees and flowers felt that their jobs
were less stressful and they were more satisfied
with their jobs than others who could only see
built environments from their window. In addi-
tion, employees with views of nature reported
fewer illnesses and headaches (Kaplan and
Kaplan, 1989). A similar study found that a
view of natural elements (trees and other vegeta-
tion) buffered the negative impact of job stress
on intention to quit (Leather et al., 1998).
Parsons et al., reviewed the literature on com-
muter stress in car drivers and the mitigating
effects of roadside environments (Parsons et al.,
1998). Driving is known to be a stressful activity,
and causes several physiological changes in the
body, including: activation of the sympathetic
nervous system, increased blood pressure,
increased heart rate and an increase in heart
rate variability (Parsons et al., 1998). Stress recov-
ery and immunization were measured in subjects
exposed to one of four simulated drives (drives
with forest/rural scenery, drives along the outside
of golf courses, drives through urban scenes
and drives through mixed roadside scenery),
immediately following and preceding mildly
stressful events. Findings demonstrated that par-
ticipants who viewed nature-dominated drives
experienced quicker recovery from stress and
greater immunization to subsequent stress than
participants who viewed artifact-dominated
drives (Parsons et al., 1998).
Ulrich examined the effects of viewing nature
on psychological state, particularly on mood
affect, and found that participants who viewed
slides of unspectacular scenes of nature had
an increase in positive mood affect, while those
who viewed scenes of urban areas experienced
a decline in positive mood affect (Ulrich, 1979;
Ulrich, 1982; cited in Rohde and Kendle, 1994).
In this and a later study, Ulrich concluded that
scenes of nature, particularly those depicting
water, had a beneficial influence on the psycho-
logical state of participants (Ulrich, 1982; cited
in Rohde and Kendle, 1994).
In a review of the literature, Rohde and Kendle
found that the psychological response to nature
involves feelings of pleasure, sustained attention
or interest, ‘relaxed wakefulness’, and diminution
of negative emotions, such as anger and anxiety
(Rohde and Kendle, 1994). Evidence presented
here has demonstrated that just by viewing nature
many aspects of human health and development
can be markedly improved. Evidence also exists
for the therapeutic benefits to be gained from
being in nature.
Being in natural environments
Early research found that in the act of con-
templating nature, the brain is relieved of ‘excess’
circulation (or activity) and nervous system activ-
ity is reduced (Yogendra, 1958). Furnass found
an experience of nature can help strengthen the
activities of the right hemisphere of the brain,
and restore harmony to the functions of the
brain as a whole (Furnass, 1979). This is a tech-
nical explanation of the process that occurs
when people ‘clear their head’ by going for a
walk in a natural setting.
Kaplan and Kaplan described ‘restorative
environments’ as those settings that foster recov-
ery from mental fatigue (Kaplan and Kaplan,
1981). According to theirs and other studies,
restorative environments require four elements:
fascination (an involuntary form of attention
requiring effortless interest, or curiosity); a sense
of being away (temporary escape from one’s
usual setting or situation); extent or scope
(a sense of being part of a larger whole); and
compatibility with an individual’s inclinations
(opportunities provided by the setting and
whether they satisfy the individual’s purposes)
(Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989; Hartig et al., 1991).
Parks are ideal for restorative experiences due
to their ability to satisfy the four elements
described above (Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989;
Kaplan and Kaplan, 1990; Kaplan, 1992a;
Kaplan 1992b; Kaplan 1995). For example,
when comparing a walk in a natural setting,
a walk in an urban setting, and relaxing in a
48 C. Maller et al.
comfortable chair, Hartig et al. found that mental
fatigue was most successfully relieved by a walk in
a park (Hartig et al., 1991). Nature may well con-
stitute a ‘restorative environment’
Whilst outside the emphasis of this paper, the
community benefits of social contact within
nature in parks and gardens is worthy of exa-
mination. Community gardens for example pro-
vide opportunities for socializing with and
learning from fellow gardeners and residents
that may normally be unavailable. This aids
community cohesion by dissolving prejudices
about race, and economic or educational status
(Lewis, 1990; Lewis, 1996). At an annual garden-
ing competition in a public housing area of New
York, research found an increase in community
cohesion, a reduction in graffiti and violence,
and an increase in positive attitudes about
themselves and their neighbourhood for resid-
ents, resulting in personal and neighbourhood
transformation (Lewis, 1990; Lewis, 1992; Lewis
1996). Civic volunteering in natural environ-
ments, such as through ‘Friends of Parks’ groups,
may be another example of enhanced health and
well-being made possible not only through con-
tact with nature, but through the social connec-
tion that arises from working on a common
community task in a local natural area.
Wong examined the benefits of contact with
nature for migrants (Wong, 1997; cited in
Rohde and Kendle, 1997). Benefits included:
increased sense of identity and ownership of
the country they live in; sense of integration
rather than isolation; a reunion with nature
(i.e. particularly important for first generation
immigrants who have rural backgrounds); the
reawakening of a sense of possibility; restoration
and a relief from daily struggles; empowerment,
skill development and the enabling of opportun-
ity to participate in caring for the environment.
Further, Rohde and Kendle found being in nat-
ural environments invokes a sense of ‘oneness’
with nature and the universe, and that being in
nature can lead to transcendental experiences
(Rohde and Kendle, 1994).
It has been stated that the major determinants
of health may have little to do with the health
care system (Hancock, 1999) and that public
health needs to focus on the environmental and
social aspects of health (Chu and Simpson,
1994). Public owned natural spaces are an ideal
resource to support these and other aspects of
human health and well-being.
Empirical, theoretical and anecdotal evidence
demonstrates contact with nature positively
impacts blood pressure, cholesterol, outlook on
life and stress-reduction (Moore, 1981; Kaplan
and Kaplan, 1989; Hartig et al., 1991; Ulrich
et al., 1991a; Ulrich et al., 1991b; Kaplan, 1992a;
Rohde and Kendle, 1994; Lewis, 1996; Leather
et al ., 1998; Parsons, et al., 1998). These outcomes
have particular relevance in areas of mental
health and cardiovascular disease, categories
that are set to be the two biggest contributors
to disease worldwide by the year 2020 (Murray
and Lopez, 1996). Whilst the extent to which
contact with nature can contribute to human
health and well-being is in need of further
investigation, the strength of this evidence
alone is sufficient to warrant inclusion of ‘contact
with nature’ within population health strategies,
and for parks to be considered a fundamental
health resource in disease prevention for urban
populations worldwide. Table 1 presents a sum-
mary of knowledge based on current anecdotal,
theoretical and empirical evidence.
As our understanding of the natural environment
has developed, and the massive destruction
human activities can have on natural systems
has been observed, a more enlightened view
has emerged. This view recognizes that plants
and animals (including humans) do not exist as
independent entities as was once thought, but
instead are part of complex and interconnected
ecosystems on which they are entirely dependent,
and fundamentally a part of (Driver et al., 1996).
As Suzuki states, the ecosystem is the funda-
mental capital on which all life is dependent
(Suzuki, 1990). It is clear that nature and natural
environments relate to human health and well-
being. To seek human health and sustainab-
ility without considering the importance of
environmental sustainability is to invite poten-
tially devastating consequences for the health
and well-being of whole populations.
What is needed is a focus on social equity,
social investment and social innovation in health
and environment policy (Kickbusch, 1989b).
Natural environments are an ideal setting for
the integration of environment, society and
health by promoting a socio-ecological approach
Contact with nature in upstream health promotion 49
to human health and well-being based on human
contact with nature.
Public health has a key role to play in environ-
mental conservation, and environment adminis-
tration has a key role to play in human health
and well-being. On this basis, potential exists
for parks and natural reserves to gain an expan-
ded role, scope and influence in urban-based
societies. A collaborative socio-ecological
approach between health and environmental
management sectors is required to ensure that
contact with nature is integral to sustainable
development strategies for local and global
urban communities.
As Keating and Hertzman state, high exposure
to economic and social inequality is a powerful
determinant of health and well-being in popu-
lations (Keating and Hertzman, 1999; cited
in Commonwealth Department of Health and
Aged Care and AIHW, 1999). With further
investigation, perhaps ecological inequality, or
a lack of opportunity to experience contact
with nature may come to be recognized as a
third powerful determinant of health and well-
being in populations. In such a case, along with
access to primary health care, accessibility to
nature would be seen as a social justice issue.
According to these criteria, the health benefits
of contact with nature, in particular publicly-
owned nature, which would be regarded as a
national health resource, should be thoroughly
Table 1: A summary of evidence supporting the assertion that contact with nature promotes health and
What the Research Demonstrates With Certainty
Assertion Evidence Key reference/s
There are some known beneficial physiological
effects that occur when humans encounter, observe
or otherwise positively interact with animals, plants,
landscapes or wilderness
üüü(Friedmann et al., 1983a; Friedmann et al., 1983b;
Parsons, 1991; Ulrich, et al., 1991b; Rohde and
Kendle, 1994; Beck and Katcher, 1996;
Frumkin, 2001)
Natural environments foster recovery from mental
fatigue and are restorative
üüü(Furnass, 1979; Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989; Kaplan
and Kaplan, 1990; Hartig et al., 1991; Kaplan, 1995)
There are established methods of nature-based
therapy (including wilderness, horticultural and
animal-assisted therapy among others) that have
success healing patients who previously had not
responded to treatment
üüü(Levinson, 1969; Katcher and Beck, 1983; Beck et al.,
1986; Lewis, 1996; Crisp and O’Donnell, 1998;
Russell et al., 1999; Fawcett and Gullone, 2001;
Pryor, 2003)
When given a choice people prefer natural
environments (particularly those with water
features, large old trees, intact vegetation or minimal
human influence) to urban ones, regardless of
nationality or culture
üü(Parsons, 1991; Newell, 1997; Herzog et al., 2000)
The majority of places that people consider favourite
or restorative are natural places, and being in these
places is recuperative
üüü(Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989 Rohde and Kendle, 1994;
Korpela and Hartig, 1996; Herzog et al ., 1997;
Newell, 1997; Herzog et al., 2000)
People have a more positive outlook on life and
higher life satisfaction when in proximity to nature
(particularly in urban areas)
üüü(Kaplan and Kaplan, 1989; Kaplan, 1992a;
Lewis, 1996; Leather et al., 1998; Kuo, 2001;
Kuo and Sullivan, 2001)
Exposure to natural environments enhances the
ability to cope with and recover from stress, cope
with subsequent stress and recover from illness and
üüü(Ulrich, 1984; Parsons, 1991; Ulrich et al., 1991b)
Observing nature can restore concentration and
improve productivity
üüü(Tennessen and Cimprich, 1995; Leather et al., 1998;
Taylor et al., 2001)
Having nature in close proximity, or just knowing it
exists, is important to people regardless of whether
they are regular ‘users’ of it
üüü(Kaplan and Kaplan 1989; Cordell et al., 1998)
A, anecdotal; T, theoretical; E, empirical.
50 C. Maller et al.
Although most people are aware of the health
benefits of sport and recreation, the health and
well-being benefits arising from contact with
nature are little understood. Further empirical
research is required to remedy gaps in current
knowledge, to further knowledge in this area,
to facilitate decision-making and policy formula-
tion, and to foster interdisciplinary approaches.
Findings summarized in this paper warrant a
repositioning of natural spaces in the minds of
both the community and government.
Socio-ecological theory is essentially triple bot-
tom line reporting in practice. This approach
promotes enhancement of individual and com-
munity health, well-being, and welfare by follow-
ing a path of economic development that does
not impair the welfare of future generations; pro-
vides for equity between and within generations;
and protects biodiversity maintaining essential
ecological processes and life support systems
(Brown, 1996).
Not only do natural spaces and public parks
protect the essential systems of life and biod-
iversity, but they also provide a fundamental
setting for health promotion and the creation
of well-being for urban populations that to date
has lacked due recognition. Whilst experience
and intuition, along with opportunity and access,
may guide some urban-dwelling individuals to
seek out gardens, parks and public natural
areas for improved health and sense of well-
being, significant evidence exists for contact
with nature to be considered in the promotion
of health and well-being for individuals and com-
munities, and potentially be incorporated within
public health strategies for whole populations.
A socio-ecological approach to public health
recognises that not only is health itself holistic
and multidisciplinary, but that a holistic or
multidisciplinary approach is needed to promote
and manage health successfully. This requires
inventive new efforts in the collaboration
between environmental scientists and biomedical
researchers on one hand, and between health and
environmental policy makers on the other
(Wilson, 2001).
As Birch stated, our objective for the future
should be healthy people in a healthy
Table 2: Recommendations for a development of contact with nature in upstream health promotion for
Strategies Recommendations
Further research Determine the potential health and well-being benefits arising from contact with nature for a range
of population groups.
Explore how contact with nature via parks could contribute to population health priority areas
(especially in cardiovascular disease and mental health).
Determine the importance of natural spaces for community health, and the actual health benefits
people derive from parks.
Examine the health benefits of volunteering in park settings, including volunteering for park
Evaluate the health and well-being benefits of contact with nature as a potential preventive ‘upstream’
health intervention.
Examine whether the destruction of the natural environment directly affects human health and
well-being and/or is linked to the prevalence of mental ill-health in modern society.
Examine whether human health in a range of population groups is affected by lack of opportunities to
experience nature.
Health promotion Partnerships: form partnerships between health and environment sectors, at national and local
levels, towards a sustainable socio-ecological approach to health promotion.
Education: promote understanding of the health and well-being benefits of viewing and being in
nature through media and community projects that raise public awareness; promote contact with
nature in schools, for example through curriculum development; encourage workplaces, schools
and housing developments to provide access to nature.
Training: train teachers, health workers and administrators of public natural spaces (including
parks staff) to facilitate nature encounters.
Contact with nature in upstream health promotion 51
environment, with healthy relations to that
environment (Birch, 1993). Natural spaces and
public-owned parks not only preserve and protect
the environment; they also encourage and enable
people to relate to the natural world, hence they
have a key role to play in a socio-ecological
approach to health.
Health promotion agencies have already
recognized the need for innovative, ‘upstream’
approaches to health and well-being, and are
seeking potential alliances/opportunities to this
end. Collaboration with the environmental man-
agement sector, and the use of public natural
spaces in population health promotion is a
clear potential strategy. As demonstrated
through this review, the individual and commun-
ity benefits arising from contact with nature
include biological, mental, social, environmental
and economic outcomes. Nature can be seen
therefore as an under-utilized public resource in
terms of human health and well-being, with the
use of parks and natural areas offering a potential
gold mine for population health promotion.
In this light, natural areas can be seen as one
of our most vital health resources. In the
context of the growing worldwide mental illness
burden of disease, contact with nature may
offer an affordable, accessible and equitable
choice in tackling the imminent epidemic, within
both preventative and restorative public health
Table 2 lists recommendations for research
and strategies to incorporate nature contact in
the promotion of health for whole populations.
This review is based on the results of a joint ini-
tiative between Parks Victoria, the International
Park Strategic Partners Group, and Deakin
University. All recognize the significance of the
potential health and well-being benefits arising
from contact with nature in local park settings,
the implications for public health, and the lack
of collated information on this topic.
Address for correspondence:
Ms Anita Pryor
School of Health and Social Development
Deakin University
Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (1998)
Australia’s Health 1998: The Sixth Biennial Health
Report of the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Canberra: Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.
Axelrod, L. J. and Suedfeld, P. (1995) Technology, capital-
ism, and christianity: are they really the three horsemen of
the eco-collapse? Journal of Environmental Psychology,
15, 183–195.
Beck, A. and Katcher, A. (1996) Between Pets and People:
The Importance of Animal Companionship. Purdue
University Press, West Lafayette, Indiana.
Beck, A., Seraydarian, L. and Hunter, F. (1986) Use of
animals in the rehabilitation of psychiatric inpatients.
Psychological Reports, 58, 63–66.
Beyondblue (2005) Website:
(last accessed 04 July 2005). National Depression Initiat-
ive, Australia.
Birch, C. (1993) Regaining Compassion for Humanity and
Nature. New South Wales University Press, Kensington.
Brown, V. A. (1996) Double or nothing: the changing
relationship between the health of the biosphere and
the health of the people. In Furnass, B., Whyte, J.,
Harris, J. and Baker, A. (eds) Survival, Health and
Wellbeing into the Twenty First Century—Proceedings of
a Conference Held at The Australian National University,
November 30—December 1, 1995. Nature and Society
Forum, Canberra, pp. 59–67.
Burns, G. W. (1998) Nature-Guided Therapy—Brief Integ-
rative Strategies for Health and Well-being. Brunner/
Mazel, Philadelphia.
Chu, C. and Simpson, R. (1994) Ecological Public
Health: From Vision to Practice. Nathan: Institute of
Applied Environmental Research, Griffith University,
Queensland, Australia and Centre for Health Promotion,
University of Toronto, Canada.
Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care
and Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (1999)
National Health Priority Areas Report: Mental Health
1998—A Report Focusing on Depression. Common-
wealth Department of Health and Aged Care, Canberra.
Cordell, K. H., Tarrant, M. A., McDonald, B. L. and
Bergstrom, J. C. (1998) How the public views wilderness:
more results from the USA survey on recreation and
the environment. International Journal of Wilderness, 4,
Crisp, S. and O’Donnell, M. (1998) Wilderness-adventure
therapy in adolescent mental health. Australian Journal
of Outdoor Education, 3, 47–57.
Desjarlais, R., Eisenberg, L., Good, B. and Kleinman, A.
(1995) World Mental Health: Problems and Priorities
in Low-income Countries. Oxford University Press,
New York.
Driver, B. L., Dustin, D., Baltic, T., Elsner, G. and
Peterson, G. L. (1996) Nature and the Human Spirit:
Toward an Expanded Land Management Ethic. Venture
Publishing, Inc., State College, PA.
Fawcett, N. R. and Gullone, E. (2001) Cute and cuddly and a
whole lot more? A call for empirical investigation into
the therapeutic benefits of human-animal interaction
for children. Behaviour Change, 18, 124–133.
Friedmann, E., Katcher, A. and Meislich, D. (1983a) When
pet wwners are hospitalized: significance of companion
52 C. Maller et al.
animals during hospitalization. In Katcher, A. and
Beck, A. (eds) New Perspectives on Our Lives with
Companion Animals. University of Pennsylvania Press,
Philadelphia, pp. 346–350.
Friedmann, E., Katcher, A., Thomas, S. A., Lynch, J. J.
and Messent, P. R. (1983b) Social interaction and blood
pressure: influence of animal companions. The Journal
of Nervous and Mental Disease, 171, 461–465.
Friedmann, E. and Thomas, S. A. (1995) Pet ownership,
social support, and one-year survival after acute myocar-
dial infarction in the Cardiac Arrhythmia Suppression
Trial (CAST). American Journal of Cardiology, 76,
Frumkin, H. (2001) Beyond toxicity human health and the
natural environment. American Journal of Preventative
Medicine, 20, 234–240.
Furnass, B. (1979) Health values. In: Messer, J. and
Mosley, J. G. (eds) The Value of National Parks to the
Community: Values and Ways of Improving the Contri-
bution of Australian National Parks to the Community.
University of Sydney, Australian Conservation Founda-
tion, pp. 60–69.
Glendinning, C. (1995) Technology, trauma and the wild.
In Roszak, T., Gomes, M. E. and Kanner, A. D. (eds)
Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind.
Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.
Gullone, E. (2000) The biophilia hypothesis and life in the
21st century: increasing mental health or increasing
pathology? Journal of Happiness Studies, 1, 293–321.
Hamilton-Smith, E. and Mercer, D. (1991) Urban Parks and
Their Visitors. The Parks Division, Melbourne and
Metropolitan Board of Works, Melbourne, pp. 1–79.
Hancock, T. (1999) Healthy and Sustainable Communities—
Creating Community Capital. In: 4th European IUHPE
Conference on Effectiveness and Quality of Health
Promotion. IUHPE, Estonia.
Hartig, T., Mang, M. and Evans, G. W. (1991) Restorative
effects of natural environment experiences. Environment
and Behavior, 23, 3–26.
Herzog, T. R., Black, A. M., Fountaine, K. A. and
Knotts, D. J. (1997) Reflection and attentional recovery
as distinctive benefits of restorative environments.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 17, 165–170.
Herzog, T. R., Herbert, E. J., Kaplan, R and Crooks, C. L.
(2000) Cultural and developmental comparisons of
landscape perceptions and preferences. Environment
and Behaviour, 32, 323–337.
Kaplan, R. (1992a) The psychological benefits of nearby
nature. In Relf, D. (ed.) Role of Horticulture in Human
Well-being and Social Development: A National Sympo-
sium. Timber Press, Arlington, Virginia, pp. 125–133.
Kaplan, S. (1992b) The restorative environment: nature
and human experience. In Relf, D. (ed.) Role of Horticul-
ture in Human Well-being and Social Development: A
National Symposium. Timber Press, Arlington, Virginia,
pp. 134–142.
Kaplan, S. (1995) The restorative benefits of nature: toward
and integrative framework. Journal of Environmental
Psychology, 15, 169–182.
Kaplan, R. and Kaplan, S. (1989) The Experience of Nature:
A Psychological Perspective. Cambridge University Press,
Cambridge, New York.
Kaplan, R. and Kaplan, S. (1990) Restorative experience:
the healing power of nearby nature. In Francis, M.
and Hester, R. T., Jr (eds) The Meaning of Gardens:
Idea, Place and Action. The MIT Press, Cambridge,
pp. 238–243.
Katcher, A. and Beck, A. (1987) Health and caring for
living things. Anthrozoos, 1, 175–183.
Katcher, A., Friedmann, E., Beck, A. and Lynch, J. J. (1983)
Looking, talking, and blood pressure: the physiological
consequences of interaction with the living environment.
In Katcher, A., and Beck, A. (eds) New Perspectives
on Our Lives with Companion Animals. University of
Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia, pp. 351–360.
Katcher, A. H. and Beck, A. M. (1983) New Perspectives
on Our Lives with Companion Animals. University of
Pennsylvania Press, Philadelphia.
Kellert, S. R. (1997) Kinship to Mastery: Biophilia in
Human Evolution and Development. Island Press,
Washington, D.C.
Kellert, S. R. and Wilson, E. O. (1993) The Biophilia Hypo-
thesis. Shearwater Books/Island Press, Washington, D.C.
Kickbusch, I. (1989a) Approaches to an ecological base for
public health. Health Promotion, 4, 265–268.
Kickbusch, I. (1989b) Good planets are hard to find:
approaches to an ecological base for public health. In
La Trobe University and Commission for the Future
(ed.) 2020: A Sustainable Healthy Future, Towards an
Ecology of Health. La Trobe University and Commission
for the Future, Melbourne, pp. 7–30.
Korpela, K. and Hartig,T. (1996) Restorative qualities of
favourite places. Journal of Environmental Psychology,
16, 221–233.
Kuo, F. E. 2001. Coping With Poverty: Impacts of Environ-
ment and Attention in the Inner City. Environment and
Behavior, 33, 5–34.
Kuo, F. E. and Sullivan, W. C. (2001) Environment and
crime in the inner city: does vegetation reduce crime?
Environment and Behavior, 33, 343–367.
Leather, P., Pyrgas, M., Beale, D. and Lawrence, C. (1998)
Windows in the workplace. Environment and Behavior,
30, 739–763.
Levinson, B. M. (1969) Pet-Oriented Child Psychotherapy.
Charles C Thomas, Springfield, IL.
Lewis, C. A. (1990) Gardening as a healing process. In
Francis, M. and Hester, R. T., Jr (eds) The Meaning
of Gardens: Idea, Place and Action. The MIT Press,
Cambridge, pp. 244–251.
Lewis, C. A. (1992) Effects of plants and gardening in
creating interpersonal and community well-being. In
Relf, D. (ed.) Role of Horticulture in Human Well-being
and Social Development: A National Symposium. Timber
Press, Arlington, Virginia, pp. 55–65.
Lewis, C. A. (1996) Green Nature/Human Nature: The
Meaning of Plants in our Lives. University of Illinois
Press, Urbana, Chicago.
McMichael, T. (2001) Human frontiers, environments and
disease. Past patterns, uncertain futures.
UK University
Press, The Syndicate of the University of Cambridge,
Moore, E. O. (1981) A prison environment’s effect on
health care service demands. Journal of Environmental
Systems, 11, 17–34.
Murray, C. J. L. and Lopez, A. D. (1996) The global burden
of disease: a comprehensive assessment of mortality and
disability from diseases, injuries, and risk factors in
1990 and projected to 2020—summary. World Health
Organization, Geneva, the World Bank, and the Harvard
School of Public Health.
Contact with nature in upstream health promotion 53
Newell, P. B. (1997) A cross cultural examination of
favourite places. Environment and Behavior, 29, 495–515.
Parsons, R. (1991) The potential influences of environmental
perception on human health. Journal of Environmental
Psychology, 11, 1–23.
Parsons, R., Tassinary, L. G., Ulrich, R. S., Hebl, M. R. and
Grossman-Alexander, M. (1998) The view from the
road: implications for stress recovery and immunization.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 18, 113–140.
Pryor, A. (2003) The outdoor experience program:
wilderness journeys for improved relationships with self,
others, and healthy adventure. In Richards, K. and
Smith, B. (eds) Proceedings of the 2nd International
Adventure Therapy Conference: Therapy within Adven-
ture. University of Augsburg. Zeil.
Rohde, C. L. E. and Kendle, A. D. (1994) Report to English
Nature—Human Well-being, Natural Landscapes and
Wildlife in Urban Areas: A Review. Department of
Horticulture and Landscape and the Research Institute
for the Care of the Elderly, University of Reading, Bath.
Rohde, C. L. E. and Kendle, A. D. (1997) Nature for people.
In Kendle, A. D. and Forbes, S. (eds) Urban Nature
Conservation—Landscape Management in the Urban
Countryside. E. and F. N. Spon, London, pp. 319–335.
Roszak, T., Gomes, M. E. and Kanner, A. D. (1995)
Ecopsychology: Restoring the Earth, Healing the Mind.
Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.
Russell, K. C., Hendee, J. C. and Phillips-Miller, D. (1999)
How wilderness therapy works: an examination of the
wilderness therapy process to treat adolescents with
behavioural problems and addictions. In Cole, D. N.
and McCool, S. F. (eds) Wilderness Science in a Time of
Change. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service,
Rocky Mountain Research Station, Odgen, UT.
Stilgoe, J. R. (2001) Gone barefoot lately? American Journal
of Preventative Medicine, 20, 243–244.
Suzuki, D. (1990) Inventing the Future. Allen and Unwin,
Suzuki, D. (1997) The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our
Place in Nature. Allen and Unwin, St Leonards.
Takacs, D. (1996) The Idea of Biodiversity: Philosophies of
Paradise. Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore.
Taylor, A. F., Kuo, F. E. and Sullivan, W. C. (2001)
Coping with ADD: the surprising connection to green
play settings. Environment and Behavior, 33,
Tennessen, C. M. and Cimprich, B. (1995) Views to
nature: effects on attention. Journal of Environmental
Psychology, 15, 77–85.
Ulrich, R. S. (1984) View through a window may influence
recovery from surgery. Science, 224, 420–421.
Ulrich, R. S. (1993) Biophilia, biophobia, and natural
landscapes. In Kellert, S. R. and Wilson, E. O. (eds)
The Biophilia Hypothesis. Shearwater Books/Island
Press, Washington D.C., pp. 73–137.
Ulrich, R. S., Dimberg, U. and Driver, B. L. (1991a)
Psychophysiological indicators of leisure benefits. In
Driver, B. L., Brown, L. R. and Peterson, G. L. (eds)
Benefits of Leisure. Venture Publishing, State College,
Pennsylvania, pp. 73–89.
Ulrich, R. S. and Parsons, R. (1992) Influences of passive
experiences with plants on individual well-being
and health. In Relf, D. (ed.) Role of Horticulture in
Human Well-being and Social Development: A
National Symposium. Timber Press, Arlington, Virginia,
pp. 93–103.
Ulrich, R. S., Simons, R. F., Losito, B. D., Fiorito, E.,
Miles, M. A. and Zelson, M. (1991b) Stress recovery
during exposure to natural and urban environments.
Journal of Environmental Psychology, 11, 231–248.
Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (2005) Website: (last accessed 04 July 2005).
Victoria, Australia.
Wilson, E. O. (1984) Biophilia. Harvard University Press,
Cambridge, MA.
Wilson, E. O. (2001) The ecological footprint. Vital
Speeches, 67, 274–281.
World Health Organization (1986) Ottawa Charter for
Health Promotion. In: International Conference on Health
Promotion: The Move Towards a New Public Health.
World Health Organization, Health and Welfare Canada,
Canadian Public Health Association, Ottawa.
Yogendra, S. (1958) Hatha Yoga Simplified. The Yoga
Institute, Santa Cruz, Bombay.
54 C. Maller et al.
... The items of selfexpressive were adapted from Chairunnisa and Perdhana (2020), Pelt et al. (2018), Aaker (2002), and Hartmann and Apaolaza-Ibáñez (2012). However, the items of nature experience were extracted from Andereck and Nyaupane (2011) and Maller et al. (2006). Lastly, the items of dependent variables, such as green purchase intention, were adapted from Kaur et al. (2022), Costa et al. (2021, Diva (2020), Kashi (2019), andLai andCheng (2016). ...
... Green Psychological benefits Nature experience NE1 Nature experience is very much linked with the ecofriendly environment that is vital for consumers, and other stakeholders Andereck and Nyaupane (2011);Maller et al. (2006) NE2 Nature experience is directly linked with the environment related strategies, which are beneficial for both consumers and the organization NE3 Nature experience always inspires me towards the buying of organic products and services Self-expressive SE1 I always self-expressive to buy eco-friendly products and ...
Full-text available
The undertaken research examines the impact of green attitude, green customer value (e.g., environmental image and perceived value), and green marketing mix (e.g., product, packaging, price, promotion, and place) on green purchasing intention. The research has integrated fundamental theoretical approaches of customers’ purchasing such as attitude-behavior context (ABC) theory, signaling theory, and theory of planned behavior (TPB) in the modified conceptual framework. Additionally, this research has also incorporated the green psychological benefits (e.g., nature experience, self-expressive, and warm glow) as mediating construct. The modified conceptual framework also unified green marketing (e.g., environmental advertising and green word of mouth) as moderator to investigate further the connotation between attitude, green customer value, green marketing mix, and green purchase intention. The survey method is used to collect data with a sample size of 896 customers that are well-versed with eco-friendly green products and services from the different urban centers of the USA. The data is analyzed through a structural equation modeling (SEM)–based multivariate approach by using SPSS 26, AMOS 26, and conditional process modeling software. The findings have demonstrated a positive and significant impact of green customer value, green marketing mix, and attitude on the green purchase intention of US customers. The study has further concluded that the green psychological benefits (mediator) and green advertising (moderator) have a significant influence on a relationship between attitude, green customer value (environmental image and perceived value), green marketing mix, and green purchasing intention. The results of this research can be helpful for researchers and academicians to get insight into theoretical approaches to green purchasing, and it can also be helpful for marketers to devise green marketing strategies to gain optimal competitive advantage in the long run.
... Reasons for visiting parks mainly refer to relaxation, exercise, socialization and companionship with children [15,16,[18][19][20]22]. At the same time, patterns of visiting parks are affected by different population groups of users, such as age [15,16], income level [23,24], education [25] and gender [26]. Although many studies have explored factors affecting park visits, they were mostly conducted based on a few selected parks; thus, they do not provide a comprehensive picture of park usage at a city scale. ...
Conference Paper
The contribution of urban green space (UGS) to an ecologically and socially sustainable city has been recognized by a large body of research. Parks, as a multifunctional types of UGS, provide places for a range of daily activities. The ability to access parks by residents is important for the full use of their functions. Using a case study from Guangzhou, China, we investigate perceived accessibility among different population groups by using questionnaires both onsite and online. In addition, we compare modelling park accessibility using four accessibility measurements using both linear and network distance. We found that whilst age was significantly correlated to the walking time to urban parks, both gender and the level of education were not significantly correlated. Additionally, we identify differences among different accessibility modelling methods, which help specify a more scientific selection of accessibility measuring methods.
... However, urbanization and our technology-driven lifestyle has resulted in increased disconnection from nature [2,3]. In the last decade public health authorities have started recognizing the role nature plays in support of both personal health and population-based upstream health promotion strategies [4]. Contact with nature is associated with better health and well-being, with links to improved cognitive function, brain activity, blood pressure, mental health outcomes, physical activity, and sleep quality [5,6]. ...
Full-text available
Detailed descriptions of theory, structure, and activities with causal links to specified outcomes of wilderness programs are lacking. Addressing this gap, the present qualitative study gives a thorough description of the development of the Wilderness programme for Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) cancer survivors (WAYA). WAYA is adapted to the individual needs of AYA cancer survivors. It was conceived around Næss’s ecosophy and the Positive Health Model, and refined based on findings from a scoping review and patient/public involvement. Programme aims were to increase physical activity, self-confidence, personal growth, joy, safety within nature, meaningful relationships, and self-efficacy. The programme was an eight-day expedition followed three months later by a four-day base-camp. Activities included hiking, backpacking, kayaking, rock climbing, mindfulness and bushcrafting. Evaluation of the programme through focus group and individual interviews with 15 facilitators and 17 participants demonstrated that a diverse group of participants, challenging activities, and mindfulness-based practices were found to positively influence group bonding and the learning process. Furthermore, including an expedition and base-camp component was found to be beneficial in supporting the development of participants’ own personal outdoor practices. In conclusion, this study demonstrated that the WAYA programme is safe and well accepted by AYA cancer survivors.
... Wilson (1986) developed a philosophical discussion of humanity's affinity for nature and the need for protection. Maller et al. (2005) emphasised the importance of 'contact with nature' to improve people's health. Fair accessibility to green spaces is also important from an environmental justice perspective. ...
Green infrastructure is an emerging approach to make cities sustainable, healthy and more liveable. Based on a strategically planned network of natural and semi-natural areas in urban, peri-urban and rural landscapes, green infrastructure aims to provide sustainable urban development and to link green and blue spaces at both urban and regional scales. In this study, a green infrastructure design system is anticipated for the city of Antalya. A set of green infrastructure components are identifed and used to delin�eate a system which could take into consideration connections between actual eco�logical hubs, people and nature and past and present. The results show that hubs and lines created by overlapped green infrastructure typologies potentially provide connectivity between city and ecology as well as between people and nature in the city of Antalya, Turkey. Antalya and its urban landscapes have a high potential for a green infrastructure design, but in order to integrate the green infrastructure application into urban planning, a holistic approach will be needed involving municipal, regional and state authorities, local stakehold�ers as well as citizens.
... Dans leur publication sur les bénéfices, de vivre au contact de la nature sauvage, Maller, Mumaw, et Cooke (2019) et Russell et al. (2013), ont répertorié un certain nombre de bénéfices issus de cette relation. Il a en effet été démontré que les interactions avec la nature étaient la source de nombreux bienfaits : cognitifs, psychologiques, sociaux et spirituels (réduction du stress et augmentation de la capacité d'attention, de la connexion sociale, amélioration de la santé émotionnelle) (Keniger et al. 2013 ;Ulrich et al. 1991 ;Kaplan 1995;Maller et al. 2006 ;Coley, Kuo, et Sullivan 1997;Townsend 2006;Maller 2009;Soulsby et White 2016). Interagir avec la nature permet d'améliorer la capacité de contrôle des individus, leur sentiment de sécurité, mais également de développer l'imagination, ainsi qu'une certaine construction identitaire 204 (Maller, Mumaw, et Cooke 2019). ...
This PhD. focuses on the conditions of protection of the wilderness in Europe, which has become a central concept in the field of environmental conservation. Such areas are considered by their promoters as a means to respond to the contemporary major ecological challenges (e.g. battle against climate change, global biodiversity loss). In 2009, the European Parliament adopted a resolution encouraging State Members to designate large areas in a natural state in which all major human interference must be avoided. Since the end of the 2000s, many wilderness initiatives have emerged at various scales (i.e. local, national, international) across Europe. The aim of this research is to study the requirements for implementing wilderness protection strategies across Europe in di erent cultural and socio-ecological contexts and the limitations that emerge from these territories. Using a qualitative methodology, semi-structured interviews were conducted in the UK, the Netherlands and France, as well as with actors with European influence. This thesis shows that many stakeholders, mainly from NGOs, are utilizing this concept throughout Europe and are trying to implement its applications in different areas. These attempts could provide feedback on the issues that must be addressed and on the technical requirements necessary when carrying out wilderness projects. However, because the concept of wilderness is a cultural construct, it is difficult to grasp and to transpose. The difficulty to obtain a universal definition of the notion has led to the development of substitute concepts closer to the realities on the field (e.g. wild land, rewilding, free evolution), which result in the implementation of various strategies whose common goal is to promote the recovery of natural processes. Wilderness, shaped by local socio-ecological conditions, thus appears to be a means of rethinking nature protection policies at national and European levels, but also of reinventing the relationship between humans and non-humans.
... Interactivity was identified as a key factor for consideration in future work. An analysis of the videos identified several environmental features within both experiences ( Figure 6) that participants found attractive, including: the use of surrounding sounds [37][38][39], natural environments, including colorful fauna and flora [14,40,67] (implicating the importance of nature), and relaxing music [8,22,61]. Almost all of the participants (95%) commented positively on the presence of water within the VR experience and suggested that they found the waves and associated sounds within the Driftwood experience extremely calming. ...
Full-text available
Aging populations across the world are facing a number of challenges in the context of health and healthcare. These challenges are driven by the aging process and the illnesses associated with aging. Healthcare for older people has become a point of concern with most health organizations, and this is particularly the case with palliative care. In this instance, the movement of the patient may be restricted to a room with no or limited access to the outdoors. This research focuses on the active integration of immersive technologies with healthcare. By addressing the problem of providing patients with the experience of being present in an outdoors space, the associated psychological and physiological benefits can be identified. In this mixed methods research paper, the impact of a crossover study to discern technology preferences in relation to immersive technologies among a sample of older people is reported. In addition, the study highlights factors that contribute to a meaningful immersive experience that can improve psychological and physiological wellbeing. The study identifies that there are two significant categorical aspects that contribute to such immersive experiences, technological aspects (including, for example, the weight of headsets, visual impairment, pixelation, and gamification) and emotive aspects (for example, joy, anger, and fear). The study suggests that older people prefer immersive Virtual Reality (VR) environments rather than 360 video experiences. This can be attributed to the greater flexibility in the provision of interactivity in virtual reality systems.
Full-text available
Antecedent factors which influence adult engagement with nature are underexplored given the human health benefits strongly associated with nature exposure. Formative pathways and impediments to nature contact merit understanding as they may contribute to later-life health disparities. We probed experiential pathways and attitudes toward nature engagement among adults purposefully sampled across U.S. regions, age, race/ethnicity, and urbanicity through semi-structured focus group discussions. The research aims were to explore entryways and barriers to experiencing nature and learn how natured and built environments compete in influencing human-nature relationships. Sessions were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed following Braun and Clarke’s phases of thematic analysis. Qualitative content analysis of discussions identified three principal themes: 1) formative influences promoting adult nature engagement (i.e., persons/organizations and places of origin), 2) detractors from nature engagement (i.e., perceptual, material, and physical barriers), and 3) role of current setting (i.e., natural and built environments) shaping nature-seeking relationships. We found experiential factors that included early life exposures outdoors, personal mentorship, and organizational affiliation to be highly influential in socializing individuals to nature and in soldering attachment to nature which manifests into adulthood. In contrast, changing demographics and childhood, inequity, social dynamics, metropolitan growth, urban renewal explained alienation from nature. These findings emphasize the importance of efforts to expand opportunities for nature contact, especially for youth living in economically challenged urban areas, which go beyond increasing greenspace to encompass mentoring partnerships for gaining skills and comfort outdoors and redesign of safe natured spaces within cities for hands-on learning and discovery.
Full-text available
Obesity tends to be higher, whereas physical activity (PA) tends to be lower for U.S. Indigenous peoples, which drives chronic health problems and mortality. Historical oppression and nutritional colonialism have disrupted Indigenous peoples' subsistence and concomitant PA. The purpose of this research is to use the framework of historical oppression, resilience, and transcendence (FHORT) with 31 participants in a critical ethnography identifying past and present forms of PA. By examining universal themes across two tribal contexts—a Southeast reservation tribal context and an urban Northwestern context—important knowledge about promising forms of PA can inform culturally relevant and effective interventions to promote health and prevent obesity and chronic health problems. Reconstructive thematic qualitative analysis resulted in the following themes: (a) Family-Centered Physical Activity: “The Kids Would … Follow Along, Dropping Seeds and Covering it … the Seeds Grew”; (b) Staying Active in the Natural World: “When I Would Go Home [from boarding school] in the Summertime, That's When … We'll Be Back Being an Indian”; (c) Staying Active through Culture: “The Traditional Dancing … [is] a Form of Exercise”; (d) Mental Wellness in Nature: “It Seemed Like Just Sitting Out There Makes You Feel Better”; and (e) Sports and Competitions Fostering PA: “A lot … Prefer Playing Softball, Basketball, Volleyball, Nowadays”. Results highlighted how participants preferred and participated in subsistence and PA growing up, how this had evolved over time, and how being outside in nature contributed to a sense of wellness and overall health.
Full-text available
Metropolitan areas tend to be materialistic/consumerist, and materialism/consumerism is usually considered immoral. Some literature argues that in cities, in general, there is more vice and immorality. In this study, we empirically explore the relationship between urbanness and materialism/immorality using 1972–2018 US General Social Survey. We find much support for a hypothesis that urbanness is associated with higher materialism and immorality. Seven out of eight measures show some evidence of more materialism/immorality in large cities, and four measures remain significant even in the most oversaturated models. However, we caution, as it is one of the first quantitative studies in the area, that the evidence is provisional. While there is a lot of theory, more empirical quantitative research is needed. The study is associative, not causal, and results may not generalize outside of the US.
Urbanization effects on vegetation and the alteration in land use is likely to be the major driver of fragmentation and the loss of ecosystem services (ESS) and biodiversity. Understanding varying levels of biodiversity within cities is pivotal to protect ESS. However, due to the high complexity of urban systems, ecological connectivity assessment in urban planning remains challenging. This article evaluates policy documents and tools for ESS assessment in Stockholm, Sweden. Stockholm is an interesting city for studying ESS planning and management since Sweden has a long tradition of formal policy for biodiversity management. An overview is presented of tools and approaches to measure ESS at different scale levels used in the urban planning process in Stockholm. Their application illustrates the complementary nature of these tools, but also the need to integrate them in a platform based on a GIS (Geographic Information System) model. Ultimately, the development of such an integrated tool should inform and support planning practice in guiding urban systems towards greater sustainability.
Wilderness-adventure therapy has gained increasing interest in Australia in recent years. It has been found to be of particular use for addressing core mental health problems of adolescents at risk of adult mental health problems and suicide. However, there are few, if any models which make a clear theoretical rationale for HOW wilderness-adventure therapy interventions should be made and which relate to models explaining the etiology of mental health problems. In order to answer the question “what intervention for which client?” a thorough developmental understanding needs to be made. An eclectic model of wilderness-adventure therapy intervention is outlined based on a comprehensive developmental understanding. The Brief Intervention Program and case studies are presented to illustrate this approach.
There are many indications that humans have a tendency to affiliate with nature, and with other living beings, including non-human species. Examples of such affiliation range from spending time in parks and nature reserves to humanising our companion animals to the point that we accord them family-member status and strongly grieve their passing. Research has also shown that humans can benefit significantly from their relationships with non-human animals. For example, studies have indicated that even the mere observation of animals can result in reduced physiological responding to stressors, and in increased positive mood. In the present review, we propose that findings such as these may provide important information regarding the potential benefits to be derived from incorporating non-human animals into intervention strategies, particularly for children. Of specific relevance for children is their fascination with, and attraction to, non-human animals. There is also the very nonjudgemental nature of human-animal interactions (i.e., unconditional positive regard) that has been argued, among other benefits, to serve as a useful "bridge" for the establishment of rapport between therapist and child. However, despite promising avenues of investigation, the area of animal-assisted intervention remains largely neglected by researchers. In this paper, we call for sound empirical investigation into proposals regarding the potential therapeutic benefits of incorporating non-human animals into intervention programs.