Improving Well-being through Urban Nature

IWUN: integrating green/blue infrastructure and health service valuation and delivery.

Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature (IWUN) is a three-year research project awarded £1.3m by the Natural Environment Research Council’s Valuing Nature Programme. It aims to find out more about how Sheffield’s natural environment can improve the health and wellbeing of the city’s residents, and especially those with disproportionately high levels of poor health.

The project, led by the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape, brings academics from the universities of Sheffield, Cardiff, Derby, and Heriot-Watt together with the Wildlife Trusts, Recovery Enterprises and the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare. We will use a range of methods, including a specially designed smartphone app, to investigate people’s relationships with Sheffield’s parks and green spaces.

Project leader Dr Anna Jorgensen said: “this project will develop a more nuanced understanding of the distribution of urban natural environments and health inequalities. We aim to understand the cultures and values that influence how people of different ages and backgrounds interact with the natural environment as well as find out more about which aspects of the natural environment are beneficial for health and wellbeing. The aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of city residents through well designed green spaces.”

Although it is already well known that spending time in natural spaces is good for people, the project will investigate which particular features of green space –their design, location, biodiversity or other features – boost people’s health and personal enjoyment.

iwun-team-jan-2017

The IWUN project, which is being lead by Dr Anna Jorgensen of the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape, brings academics from four universities together with the Wildlife Trusts, Recovery Enterprises, and the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare.

Follow the IWUN project:

IWUN website

@IWUNproject

University of Sheffield, Department of Landscape Architecture news report

References and further reading:

Allen J & Balfour R.2014. Natural solutions for tackling health inequalities, UCL Institute of Health Equity.

Conway, H. 1991. People’s parks: the design and development of Victorian parks in Britain Cambridge University Press.

Natural England. 2015. Monitor of engagement with the natural environment: the national survey on people and the natural environment – Annual report from the 2013-14 survey Natural England joint report JP009.

Sandifer, P.A, Sutton-Grier, A.E, Ward, B.R. 2015.  Exploring connections among nature, biodiversity, ecosystem services, and human health and well-being: Opportunities to enhance health and biodiversity conservation. Ecosystem Services 12: 1-15.

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