Nature, Biodiversity and Health

There is a growing volume of scientific evidence showing that ‘greenspace’ is an important resource for our health and wellbeing. Yet this relationship is complex and evidence is essential to ensure the nuances of these interconnections are well understood. This is also vital to ensure policies are balanced to protect and improve public health and wellbeing as well as our precious natural environments.

The European Centre for Environment and Human Health is a World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre on Natural Environments and Health, recognising the Centre’s significant contribution to science and policy-making from a decade of interdisciplinary research.

The following research activities demonstrate the breadth and depth of our work in this area.

News

Sounds of nature benefit mental health and promote environmental protection

The sounds of nature could help us recover from mental fatigue, but this power may be under threat as ecosystems deteriorate and people disconnect from the natural world, according to…

News

Exeter academics author WHO “call to action” on nature, biodiversity and health

The multitude of ways in which the natural environment and human health are inextricably linked have been outlined in a document designed to help individuals and organisations across the 53 member states of the WHO European Region make evidence-based decisions.

News

New Nature, Health and Wellbeing CPD Course

The European Centre for Environment and Human Health is pleased to be working with the College of Medicine and Health CPD team to launch a brand new online course in,…

Research project

Beyond Greenspace

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. The project used some of the UK’s extremely valuable existing (‘secondary’) datasets to address this research question.

News

‘Green exercise’ in England brings £2.2 billion in health benefits

Physical activity in natural environments, or ‘green exercise’, could provide health benefits of £2.2 billion a year.

Page

WHO Collaborating Centre on Natural Environments and Health

The Centre is a designated World Health Organization Collaborating Centre, helping to support the WHO's global health work.

Research project

Nature on Prescription Handbook

This handbook is the culmination of detailed evidence gathering through evidence review, interviews and workshops with people and organisations involved in providing green social prescribing.

Research project

Evaluating the Green Social Prescribing Test and Learn Pilots

A team from ECEHH have been funded to evaluate the Government’s flagship Green Social Prescribing test and learn pilots programme. Social prescribing and community-based support enables GPs, other health and care practitioners and local agencies to refer people to a link worker who gives people time and focuses on what matters to the individual.

News

Environmental Protection Scotland launches e-booklet for COP26 climate summit

An electronic pocket guide to the environment and sustainability sets out how Scotland can achieve a ‘Triple Win’ of improved health and wellbeing, equity and the environment with a greater focus on greenspace, energy efficient living, and changes to the way we consume food and travel.

Research project

Urban greenspace valuation toolkit

This Innovate UK funded project has created a web-based greenspace valuation tool, learning from and integrating existing planning tools.

News

Exeter in new £7m consortium to boost nature’s impact on health inequalities

A new consortium involving the University of Exeter has been awarded more than £7.1 million from the UK Prevention Research Partnership (UKPRP) to investigate the impact that nature can have in helping to prevent and reduce health inequalities in urban areas.

Research project

Sensing Nature

Sensing Nature is exploring how people with varying forms and severities of sight impairment experience diverse types of nature.

Research project

SWEEP – Informing investment in the environment for health

This five-year project is addressing the government’s need for greater understanding of how investing in the environment can benefit our health, and work specifically to promote good mental health among young people in the South West.

News

Peninsula Forum encourages lively debate around 'Balancing Nature & Health for the Future'

The third and final Peninsula Forum of 2021 rounded off our series of events by focusing on the risks and rewards that the environment can pose to human health and wellbeing and asking what more can be done to maximise the benefits.

News

NIHR research school recognises Exeter’s excellence on public and environmental health

Excellence and innovation in public and environmental health research at the University of Exeter have been recognised through membership of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) School for Public Health Research, focusing on expertise around the intrinsic environments —natural, social and in the home—that affect public health.

Person

Associate Professor Ben Wheeler

Dr Ben Wheeler is a health geographer researching the interplay between environment, socio-economic status and public health.

Research project

Longitudinal effects of moving to greener urban areas

Green spaces in towns and cities could lead to sustained improvements in mental health, finds a new study.

News

Virtual reality nature environments offer an opportunity for people with memory loss

Blue Health researchers from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health have published the results of their study looking at the acceptability of virtual reality (VR) natural environments among people with memory loss.

News

Happiest countries are those most connected to nature

Living near, recreating in, and feeling psychologically connected to, the natural world are all associated with better mental health, but many exposure-related questions remain. BlueHealth researchers have published a study based on the 18-country BlueHealth International Survey (BIS).

External

Can digital natural environments boost wellbeing?

This 4 year project is part of a PhD funded by The Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health, focusing on several overlooked elements of digital nature experiences; probing the importance of sound, memories, and music.

Research project

Green-blue space natural experiment

Green-blue space exposure changes and impact on individual-level wellbeing and mental health: a population-wide record-linked natural experiment.

Person

Dr Rebecca Lovell

Dr Rebecca Lovell's research focuses on understanding the ways people can benefit from proximity to and contact with ‘natural’ environments.

News

Exeter in global top five for green space and health research

The University of Exeter is one of the top five institutions in the world for research on green space and health.

Research project

Would you be happier living in a greener urban area?

18 years of panel data demonstrates that urban green spaces can significantly improve mental wellbeing.

Research project

PollerGEN

PollerGEN is an interdisciplinary NERC-funded project aiming to revolutionise aeropollen measurement and forecasting.

Research project

Defra Fellowship: Natural Environments and Human Health

This Defra Research Fellowship will improve understanding of how different environments can impact health and how this can be considered in decision making.

External

How evidence into environment and health informs policy

Professor Ben Wheeler discusses how evidence has informed and impacted on policy such as the the 53 member states of the World Health Organisation and England's Chief Medical Officer's report

Research project

Valuing ecosystem services

This PhD study aims to build on the National Ecosystem Assessment approach to ecosystem services by applying its methods within a smaller defined geographical scale.

External

Community Greenspace

Karen Spooner, Smartline Community Development Manager describes how community engagement is improving health and wellbeing through the development of new greenspace.

News

Beyond Greenspace results released

The findings from a two-year in-depth investigation into how different types of green space can affect health have been released today.