Healthy parks, healthy people


Recommendations to government departments, planners, park management bodies, and health policy makers are:

1 Support further research Research is required to: a collect further empirical evidence demonstrating the health and wellbeing benefits of contact with nature; b explore new opportunities for application of the health and wellbeing benefits of contact with nature by investigating nature-based interventions to address existing and emerging health problems; c explore opportunities for using the health and wellbeing benefits of contact with nature as a preventive ‘upstream’ health measure.

2 Encourage and facilitate the repositioning of parks a by communicating to governments and the wider community, the health and wellbeing benefits of nature as provided by parks; b by educating government departments, health professionals, and the wider community as to these benefits; c by facilitating the engagement of the community with nature in order to reestablish awareness of the importance of nature in people’s lives, and cultivate a holistic, sustainable attitude towards life and health.

3 Develop ways of integrating parks and nature into public health

a Cooperation through a partnerships approach is required between government departments, park management agencies, health service agencies, health professionals, and researchers to successfully integrate parks and nature in public health;

b Health promotion agencies have already recognised the need for innovative, ‘upstream’ approaches to health and wellbeing, and are seeking potential alliances/opportunities to this end;

c It may be beneficial to initiate this process by examining how contact with nature via parks could be used as a preventive measure, potentially contributing to, for example, the Australian National Health Priority Areas of Cardiovascular Disease and Mental Health;

d The use of parks and nature to improve health and wellbeing is supported by the Jakarta Declaration (World Health Organization, 1997) and its predecessor, the Ottawa Charter for Health Promotion (World Health Organization, 1986), which call for creating supportive environments (both natural and social) and a reorientation of health services to be shared among individuals, community groups, health professionals, health service institutions, and governments.


Healthy parks, healthy people
The health benefits of contact with nature in a park context
A review of relevant literature
2nd edition
March 2008
School of Health and Social Development Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural Sciences
Deakin University
Burwood, Melbourne

© Deakin University and Parks Victoria 2008
Authors Dr. Cecily Maller Associate Professor Mardie Townsend Associate Professor Lawrence St Leger Dr Claire Henderson-Wilson Ms Anita Pryor Ms Lauren Prosser Dr Megan Moore

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