Beyond Greenspace

The Beyond Greenspace project investigated how different types and qualities of natural environment can have varying relationships with human health and wellbeing.

The research was funded by the ESRC Secondary Data Analysis Initiative and formally ended in September 2013. More information on the project and its findings can be found at the Beyond Greenspace blog which continues to be updated with relevant blog posts and news items.

Much of the research on the potential benefits of natural environments for health has considered ‘greenspace’ in general, with no differentiation between types or qualities of environment.

Beyond Greenspace aimed to improve our understanding in this area by examining how different types and qualities of natural environment have varying relationships with human health and wellbeing.

Listen to a podcast describing the study here

The project used some of the UK’s extremely valuable existing (‘secondary’) datasets to address this research question. Secondary datasets are very useful for this type of research because they have already been funded, collected and processed, so are very cost-effective. They also tend to be very large, allowing us to address complex research questions.

The research integrated two types of secondary data:

  1. Health and socio-economic status data (from the census and national household surveys)
  2. Indicators of ecological type (e.g. grassland, woodland, coast) and character (e.g. biodiversity, ecosystem quality, designated status)

Beyond Greenspace also explored relationships at a local level using ecological data from the Environmental Records Centre for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

A key output from the project was the paper Beyond greenspace: an ecological study of population general health and indicators of natural environment type and quality in the International Journal of Health Geographics.

The study involved a number of researchers at the Centre, and had an advisory board including representatives from Cornwall Wildlife Trust, Natural England, Forest Research and the University of Edinburgh.

More findings and information related to the project are available on the project blog