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The contribution of green and open spaces in public health

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The aim of this project was to explore the relationship between green space and human health.

Project aim

The aim of this project was to explore the relationship between green space and human health using a range of methods and disciplinary approaches at different scales. It was funded by the Scottish Government and ran from 2009-2012.

Project objective

To explore the relationship between green space and human health using a range of methods and disciplinary approaches at different scales (individual, community and population). It also hoped to inform assessments of the effects of land and environmental management policies on the provision of environments that are conducive to good public health and wellbeing, and the role that quality can play in the benefits of green spaces.

Methodology

Health surveys; geographic modelling; policy analysis; focus groups; neighbourhood surveys; cortisol testing; mobile and visual ethnography; community engagement case study; and green-space mapping. Fieldwork was undertaken in two case study areas, in Edinburgh and Dundee.

Key findings

  • There is little or no evidence that the amount of green space in an area is related to risk of mortality for residents; green space is not associated with a reduced risk of obesity, or with poor cardiovascular or respiratory health (Green Health Briefing 1).
  • At community scale, green space quantity in the neighbourhood and residents’ perceived stress and mental wellbeing were linked; relationships varied by gender and likely amount of time spent at home     (Green Health Briefing 2).
  • In deprived urban communities, more green space is associated with lower levels of self-reported stress and stress shown by salivary cortisol patterns for a sample of middle-aged men and women not in work; more green space has greater effect on cortisol concentrations in women than in men in these groups (Green Health Briefing 3).
  • Individuals and social groups attach different meanings to green space, and experience differing wellbeing benefits from using such places; the social dimension of green space use is important for understanding wellbeing benefits (Green Health Briefing 4).
  • Larger urban green spaces provide multiple functions for communities of place, and communities of interest; smaller areas of green space provide important spaces for short periods outdoors. There is significant community interest in involvement in decision-making about local green spaces (Green Health Briefing 5).
  • The visibility of green space can make a significant difference to the interpretation of accessibility (and safety) of urban places (Green Health Briefing 6).

Six summary briefings and four academic articles have been published from this research. The final report and summary overview are currently being finalised with Scottish Government.

Key contacts
David MillerLiz Dinnie, Katrina Brown, Sue Morris, Alana Gilbert

Project Information
Project Type: 
Archived Project

Research

Areas of Interest


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The James Hutton Research Institute is the result of the merger in April 2011 of MLURI and SCRI. This merger formed a new powerhouse for research into food, land use, and climate change.