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

Posted on 12th October 2021

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. Attracting local, national and international participants, the session was a lively and varied debate, exploring ways of balancing nature and health for the future.

In his presentation, Dr Ben Wheeler from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) outlines how the Centre’s work interacts and influences policy and decision makers. He explains that, “it’s not simply a case of us generating research and then passing it over and saying go and do something useful with that. It means us being involved across the policy spectrum, throughout policy cycles and across the work of The Centre on a diversity of issues.”

Dr Wheeler also highlights how as a World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Natural Environments and Health, ECEHH developed a report for the World Health Organisation outlining nature’s relevance to human wellbeing.

The input of the team into the UK Chief Medical Officer’s report is also outlined, which warns that we must not take forgranted the benefits of coastal environments in the face of mounting environmental and social pressures.


Dr Harriet Hunt picked up the discussion to focus on the development by the team of a Nature on Prescription Handbook for people with common mental health conditions; and the evaluation of how to deliver Green Social Prescribing. The handbook is the culmination of detailed evidence gathering through evidence review, interviews and workshops with people and organisations involved in providing green social prescribing and is about how Nature on Prescription can be used to support people’s mental health, making evidence-based suggestions for how to develop and implement a high-quality scheme, in the new social prescribing landscape.

NHS Ocean launched successfully earlier this year with the aim of conserving and protecting coastal and marine ecosystems through minimising harm resulting from the procurement and delivery of healthcare, whilst increasing awareness of the benefits to human health and wellbeing from healthy seas, coasts, and waterways. Co founders, Dr Richard Hixson, Consultant in Critical Care at Durham and Darlington NHS Trust and Dr Georgie Sowman a GP,  joined Professor Lora Fleming to discuss the positive actions being taken to help conserve and enjoy the health and wellbeing benefits and sustainable interaction with the ocean.


Moving the discussion to local engagement. Karen Spooner, Smartline Community Development Manager led a presentation and discussion describing how community engagement is improving health and wellbeing through the development of new green space in a part of Camborne in Cornwall. This followed the development of a guided conversation with Coastline Housing residents. Karen explains, “It was very evident through the work that we did that people were very keen to look at their street, the areas where they live and to improve their general health and wellbeing because where they lived wasn’t quite fit for purpose.”

The Forum also provided the opportunity for shared insights, expertise  and opportunities beyond the core presentations. Some useful links relating to the themes of the session were circulated, including:

The World Health organisation report into Nature, Biodiversity and Health

The Chief Medical Officer’s report, highlighting the importance of blue spaces

Details on Nature on Prescription

Download The Nature on Prescription Handbook

Details on the Kumu model 

Link to the Therapeutic Nature report produced for Defra

Further info on ECEHH supported project to evaluate green social prescribing of test and learn sites 

Link for NHS Ocean

NHS Ocean launch

Greener NHS

Sustainable Healthcare

A brand new course, Nature, Health and Well-being CPD ,which will run virtually on Zoom over 4 days on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 – 13:00 on the 22nd and 24th March and 5th and 7th April 2022.We have a fantastic team of experts from the European Centre for Environment and Human Health contributing to the course, some of whom have led on the Nature and Prescription Handbook and have authored the WHO ‘call to action’ on nature, biodiversity and health. There are no pre-requisites or specialist knowledge required to undertake this course, which is well suited to interdisciplinary learning.

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