Greenspace and health: Some references

Green spaces reduce the health gap between rich and poor — The Lancet

A bit of greenery near our homes can cut the “health gap” between rich and poor, say researchers from two Scottish universities.

The authors of the article in the British medical journal The Lancet (2008) called for planning authorities to consider making more green spaces available to improve the health and well-being of their residents.

Read more here (from BBC News).

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A related 2008 article: “Urban planning needs green rethink” by Martha Schwartz:

“The focus on greening homes and offices is ignoring the wider landscape of our towns and cities… 21st Century urban spaces must undergo a green revolution.”

Read that article here, with comments from around the world.

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Look here for a study of the “Impact of Urban Forestry Development on Domestic Violence. It builds on earlier work (2001) by Sullivan and Kuo at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (download a slide presentation on that work from here).


(on tips from Bill Royds, Sol Shuster and Ann Coffey)

10 November 2008


UPDATE – 30 July 2015

More evidence about the connection between health and greenspace

+ about greenness and mental health:

From the National Academy of Sciences of the USA –

“Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation”

by Gregory Bratman [Stanford] et al.

Abstract (underlining added)

Urbanization has many benefits, but it also is associated with increased levels of mental illness, including depression. It has been suggested that decreased nature experience may help to explain the link between urbanization and mental illness. This suggestion is supported by a growing body of correlational and experimental evidence, which raises a further question: what mechanism(s) link decreased nature experience to the development of mental illness? One such mechanism might be the impact of nature exposure on rumination, a maladaptive pattern of self-referential thought that is associated with heightened risk for depression and other mental illnesses. We show in healthy participants that a brief nature experience, a 90-min walk in a natural setting, decreases both self-reported rumination and neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex (sgPFC), whereas a 90-min walk in an urban setting has no such effects on self-reported rumination or neural activity. In other studies, the sgPFC has been associated with a self-focused behavioral withdrawal linked to rumination in both depressed and healthy individuals. This study reveals a pathway by which nature experience may improve mental well-being and suggests that accessible natural areas within urban contexts may be a critical resource for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.

+ about neighhbourhood trees and health (Toronto data):

From Scientific Reports on

“Neighborhood greenspace and health in a large urban center”

by Omid Kardan [Chicago] et al.

Abstract (underlining added)

Studies have shown that natural environments can enhance health and here we build upon that work by examining the associations between comprehensive greenspace metrics and health. We focused on a large urban population center (Toronto, Canada) and related the two domains by combining high-resolution satellite imagery and individual tree data from Toronto with questionnaire-based self-reports of general health perception, cardio-metabolic conditions and mental illnesses from the Ontario Health Study. Results from multiple regressions and multivariate canonical correlation analyses suggest that people who live in neighborhoods with a higher density of trees on their streets report significantly higher health perception and significantly less cardio-metabolic conditions (controlling for socio-economic and demographic factors). We find that having 10 more trees in a city block, on average, improves health perception in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $10,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $10,000 higher median income or being 7 years younger. We also find that having 11 more trees in a city block, on average, decreases cardio-metabolic conditions in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $20,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $20,000 higher median income or being 1.4 years younger.