Exposure to green space has been associated with better physical and mental health. Although this exposure could also influence cognitive development in children, available epidemiological evidence on such an impact is scarce. This study aimed to assess the association between exposure to green space and measures of cognitive development in primary schoolchildren. This study was based on 2,593 schoolchildren in the second to fourth grades (7–10 y) of 36 primary schools in Barcelona, Spain (2012–2013). Cognitive development was assessed as 12-mo change in developmental trajectory of working memory, superior working memory, and in- attentiveness by using four repeated (every 3 mo) computerized cognitive tests for each outcome. We assessed exposure to green space by characterizing outdoor surrounding greenness at home and school and during commuting by using high-resolution (5 m × 5 m) satellite data on greenness (normalized difference vegetation index). Multilevel modeling was used to estimate the associations between green spaces and cognitive development. We observed an enhanced 12-mo progress in working memory and superior working memory and a greater 12-mo reduction in inattentiveness associated with greenness within and surrounding school bound- aries and with total surrounding greenness index (including green- ness surrounding home, commuting route, and school). Adding a traffic-related air pollutant (elemental carbon) to models explained 20–65% of our estimated associations between school greenness and 12-mo cognitive development. Our study showed a beneficial association between exposure to green space and cognitive devel- opment among schoolchildren that was partly mediated by reduc- tion in exposure to air pollution.
Internationally, the importance of a coordinated effort to protect both biodiversity and public health is more and more recognized. These issues are often concentrated or particularly challenging in urban areas, and therefore on-going urbanization worldwide raises particular issues both for the conservation of living natural resources and for population health strategies. These challenges include significant difficulties associated with sustainable management of urban ecosystems, urban development planning, social cohesion and public health. An important element of the challenge is the need to interface between different forms of knowledge and different actors from science and policy. We illustrate this with examples from Belgium, showcasing concrete cases of human–nature interaction. To better tackle these challenges, since 2011, actors in science, policy and the broader Belgian society have launched a number of initiatives to deal in a more integrated manner with combined biodiversity and public health challenges in the face of ongoing urbanization. This emerging community of practice in Belgium exemplifies the importance of interfacing at different levels. (1) Bridges must be built between science and the complex biodiversity/ecosystem–human/public health–urbanization phenomena. (2) Bridges between different professional communities and disciplines are urgently needed. (3) Closer collaboration between science and policy, and between science and societal practice is needed. Moreover, within each of these communities closer collaboration between specialized sections is needed.
Climate change is regarded as one of the greatest challenges to cities in the future. Some proposals focus on incorporating urban green space to counter the rise in temperature and ensuing public health hazards. Urban blue spaces, defined as all surface waters within a city, are regarded as a possible factor for temperature mitigation, but effects have not been quantified and so remain underrepresented in research, recommendations for action and planning. A systematic review was conducted of studies quantifying the temperature-mitigating effects of urban blue compared to other urban sites (n=27). The studies included in the review measured air temperatures at various types of urban blue space such as ponds, lakes or rivers and compared them with reference sites at defined distances or to urban reference sites in the same city. The meta-analysis suggested that a cooling effect of 2.5 K (CI 95% 1.9-3.2 K, p<0.01) during the warmest months on northern hemisphere (between May and October) can be attributed to urban blue sites when including remote sensing data. However, research on the air temperature effects of urban blue space remains sparse compared to attributable to urban blue space are limited by surrounding environmental conditions like microclimate, urban development, wind velocity, wind turbulence, wind direction, temperature and humidity. Future research is needed to help planners use urban blue space efficiently as a temperature-mitigating and health protecting and promoting factor. The temperature-mitigating capacity of urban blue can potentially reduce heat stress in urban areas. To create healthy environments in the cities of the future, a better understanding of health affecting aspects of urban blue is needed to initiate public health action.
Over the past 30 years, urbanisation has been a prominent phenomenon and various drivers have been proposed to explain it. Very few have suggested that the degradation of the rural environment was one of them. This paper explores the human–environment interface by focusing on the portrayal of these concepts within scholarly literature. A systematic literature review was conducted and 147 articles were examined to determine the direction of the link between the environment and human mobility, and if urbanisation was featured. The results demonstrate that equal attention is paid to both directions of the environment–mobility link. Of the articles reviewed, 40 per cent focus on urbanisation, but 93 per cent of those portray urbanisation as a forcing on the environment, rather than an impact of environmental degradation. The lack of support for environmentally influenced urbanisation can be explained by coupled system complexity, disciplinary research and the silence of those most likely to endure environmental change. Understanding these relationships is paramount to the promotion of adaptation without eroding resilience or further degrading environments.
Scientific papers on landscape planning underline the importance of maintaining and developing green spaces because of their multiple environmental and social benefits for city residents. However, a general understanding of contemporary human-environment interaction issues in urban green space is still incomplete and lacks orientation for urban planners. This review examines 219 publications to (1) provide an overview of the current state of research on the relationship between humans and urban green space, (2) group the different research approaches by identifying the main research areas, methods, and target groups, and (3) highlight important future prospects in urban green space research.
OBJECTIVE: The natural world's role in human well-being is an essential, yet often forgotten, aspect of healthcare. Of particular importance are the benefits one can derive through interaction with natural environments. While health is an obvious goal of allopathic medicine, many healthcare settings are neither nurturing nor healing. Reincorporating the natural world into the design of settings in which medicine is practiced is one way to complement conventional healing modalities and move healthcare toward being more "green." This article discusses the breadth of existing knowledge available on the positive aspects of interaction with nature and provides a comprehensive theoretical perspective for future research. DATA SOURCES: Computerized searches were conducted using MEDLINE, PsycINFO, the Social and Scientific Science Indices, Dissertation Abstracts, Lexus-Nexus, the University of Michigan library, and the Internet. Searches were conducted from June 2001 through March 2002. STUDY SELECTION: Keywords used included health, well-being stress, attention, nature, garden, landscape, restorative, and healing. The literature, published between 1960 and 2001, came from various disciplines, including medicine, public health, nursing psychology, natural resources, history, and landscape architecture. Four components of well-being were used as a framework for literature selection: physical psychological-emotional social, and spiritual. DATA EXTRACTION: Articles were qualitatively reviewed to extract theories, hypotheses, and experimental evidence. DATA SYNTHESIS: Interaction with nature positively affects multiple dimensions of human health. Physiological effects of stress on the autonomic nervous system are lessened. Psychologically, deficits in attention can be restored or minimized, and people report feeling greater satisfaction with a variety of aspects of life. The presence of the natural world promotes social health by encouraging positive social interaction and lessening the frequency of aggressive behavior. Spiritual well-being is enhanced through the experience of greater interconnectedness, which occurs when interacting with the natural world. CONCLUSIONS: The literature reviewed provides evidence to support the intuitive belief that interaction with the natural world is a vital part of biopsychosocial-spiritual well-being. Incorporating the natural world into healthcare could provide health benefits and improve the design of healthcare facilities. Applied more broadly to society, this knowledge may change the way we approach public health, guard and manage natural resources, and design environments for human use.
BACKGROUND: An understanding of how the living environment influences physical activity (PA) is of great importance for health promotion. Researchers have reported increased PA when there is a greater availability of nature within people's living environment. However, little has been said about underlying motivational processes. The aim of this study was to review the existing literature on the relationship between the natural environment (NE) and PA, integrating it into a conceptual model that depicts the motivational process underlying this relationship. METHODS: Through a systematic literature search in line with PRISMA guidelines, peer-reviewed articles were sought using PubMed (search updated to October 2013) and scrutiny of reference lists. In addition, we contacted experts within our network. We reviewed papers in which the research question(s) concerned: 1) Effects of PA in NE on individuals' feelings and beliefs; 2) Relationships between PA and availability of NEs; and 3) Motivational processes underlying visits to NEs in association with PA. Analysis and integration of the 90 selected studies were performed using the theory of planned behaviour (TPB). RESULTS: People's experiences in using the NE can enhance attitudes toward PA and perceived behavioural control via positive psychological states and stress-relieving effects, which lead to firmer intentions to engage in PA. Individual and environmental barriers, as expressions of social support and actual behavioural control, impact the process via subjective norm and perceived behavioural control. Instrumental beliefs such as a desire to enjoy nature and the expected health benefits also influence the process via attitudes. Different patterns have been identified for neighbourhood-based PA and outdoor recreations that take place in a NE. CONCLUSIONS: The availability of a NE and attractive views of nature within an individual's living environment are important contributors to PA, yet attention should focus on personal characteristics and environmental barriers. Policy and infrastructural interventions should aim to guarantee access and maintenance of the NE, as well as information and programming of social activities. Social campaigns via media and health institutions should highlight how nature can be a source of motivation for maintaining a PA routine, reducing stress and achieving aesthetic and health goals.
Urban trees can potentially mitigate environmental degradation accompanying rapid urbanisation via a range of tree benefits and services. But uncertainty exists about the extent of tree benefits and services because urban trees also impose costs (e.g. asthma) and may create hazards (e.g. windthrow). Few researchers have systematically assessed how urban tree benefits and costs vary across different cities, geographic scales and climates. This paper provides a quantitative review of 115 original urban tree studies, examining: (i) research locations, (ii) research methods, and (iii) assessment techniques for tree services and disservices. Researchers published findings in 33 journals from diverse disciplines including: forestry, land use planning, ecology, and economics. Research has been geographically concentrated (64% of studies were conducted in North America). Nearly all studies (91.3%) used quantitative research, and most studies (60%) employed natural science methods. Demonstrated tree benefits include: economic, social, health, visual and aesthetic benefits; identified ecosystem services include: carbon sequestration, air quality improvement, storm water attenuation, and energy conservation. Disservices include: maintenance costs, light attenuation, infrastructure damage and health problems, among others. Additional research is required to better inform public policy, including comparative assessment of tree services and disservices, and assessment of urban residents and land managers’ understanding of tree benefits and costs. [Copyright &y& Elsevier] Copyright of Urban Forestry & Urban Greening is the property of Elsevier Science and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract.
A range of published and grey literature over the last three decades has underlined the importance of urban and peri-urban agriculture and forestry (UPAF) in cities of developing regions. The focus in the published literature is on livelihoods, poverty reduction and ecosystems services at multiple city scales. Cities of developing regions, particularly in Africa, are searching for ways of addressing the unavoidable impacts of climate change and UPAF has demonstrated scalable adaptation and mitigation potential. However, evidence of UPAF's role in mitigating and adaptation to climate change is scattered in various reports and has not been synthesized for its potential role in developing urban adaptation strategies. Building on the earlier poverty reduction focus of UPAF research, this paper contributes to UPAF knowledge regarding mitigating and adapting to climate change in urban and peri-urban areas in East and West Africa. The paper reports a synthesis based on a systematic review of the available literature on these regions, and selected sources on other parts of sub-Saharan Africa. The paper also examines the extent to which literature conveys any evidence for UPAF playing a role in mediating the effects of climate/environmental change. Limited empirical verification was undertaken in Kampala and Ibadan, but this does not form the basis for systematic generalization. The key emerging areas of adaptation and mitigation include enhanced food security, productive greening, ecosystem services and innovative policy for urban resilience and transformation.
'Urban greening' has been proposed as one approach to mitigate the human health consequences of increased temperatures resulting from climate change. We used systematic review methodology to evaluate available evidence on whether greening interventions, such as tree planting or the creation of parks or green roofs, affect the air temperature of an urban area. Most studies investigated the air temperature within parks and beneath trees and are broadly supportive that green sites can be cooler than non-green sites. Meta-analysis was used to synthesize data on the cooling effect of parks and results show that, on average, a park was 0.94 degrees C cooler in the day. Studies on multiple parks suggest that larger parks and those with trees could be cooler during the day. However, evidence for the cooling effect of green space is mostly based on observational studies of small numbers of green sites. The impact of specific greening interventions on the wider urban area, and whether the effects are due to greening alone, has yet to be demonstrated. The current evidence base does not allow specific recommendations to be made on how best to incorporate greening into an urban area. Further empirical research is necessary in order to efficiently guide the design and planning of urban green space, and specifically to investigate the importance of the abundance, distribution and type of greening. Any urban greening programme implemented would need to be appropriately designed and monitored to continue to evaluate benefit to human health through reducing temperature.
Urbanization, resource exploitation, and lifestyle changes have diminished possibilities for human contact with nature in urbanized societies. Concern about the loss has helped motivate research on the health benefits of contact with nature. Reviewing that research here, we focus on nature as represented by aspects of the physical environment relevant to planning, design, and policy measures that serve broad segments of urbanized societies. We discuss difficulties in defining "nature" and reasons for the current expansion of the research field, and we assess available reviews. We then consider research on pathways between nature and health involving air quality, physical activity, social cohesion, and stress reduction. Finally, we discuss methodological issues and priorities for future research. The extant research does describe an array of benefits of contact with nature, and evidence regarding some benefits is strong; however, some findings indicate caution is needed in applying beliefs about those benefits, and substantial gaps in knowledge remain.
BACKGROUND: There is increasing interest in the potential role of the natural environment in human health and well-being. However, the evidence-base for specific and direct health or well-being benefits of activity within natural compared to more synthetic environments has not been systematically assessed. METHODS: We conducted a systematic review to collate and synthesise the findings of studies that compare measurements of health or well-being in natural and synthetic environments. Effect sizes of the differences between environments were calculated and meta-analysis used to synthesise data from studies measuring similar outcomes. RESULTS: Twenty-five studies met the review inclusion criteria. Most of these studies were crossover or controlled trials that investigated the effects of short-term exposure to each environment during a walk or run. This included 'natural' environments, such as public parks and green university campuses, and synthetic environments, such as indoor and outdoor built environments. The most common outcome measures were scores of different self-reported emotions. Based on these data, a meta-analysis provided some evidence of a positive benefit of a walk or run in a natural environment in comparison to a synthetic environment. There was also some support for greater attention after exposure to a natural environment but not after adjusting effect sizes for pretest differences. Meta-analysis of data on blood pressure and cortisol concentrations found less evidence of a consistent difference between environments across studies. CONCLUSIONS: Overall, the studies are suggestive that natural environments may have direct and positive impacts on well-being, but support the need for investment in further research on this question to understand the general significance for public health.
Noise pollution is one of the four major pollutions in the world. Little evidence exists about the actual preventive benefits of psychological noise attenuation by urban green spaces, especially from the perspective of environmental medicine and, to the best of our knowledge, there is not a systematic analysis on this topic. The aim of this review was to systematically evaluate whether there is conclusive scientific evidence for the effectiveness of urban green spaces as a psychological buffer for the negative impact of noise pollution on human health and to promote an evidence-based approach toward this still growing environmental hazard. MEDLINE and EMBASE databases were searched for experimental and epidemiological studies published before June 04, 2013 in English and Spanish. Data was independently extracted in two step process by the authors. Due to the heterogeneity of the included studies qualitative assessment was performed. We found moderate evidence that the presence of vegetation can generally reduce the negative perception of noise (supported with an electroencephalogram test in one of the experimental studies; consistent with the data from two epidemiological studies; one experiment found no effect and one was inconclusive about the positive effect). This review fills a gap in the literature and could help researchers further clarify the proper implementation of urban green spaces as a psychological buffer in areas with population exposed to chronic noise pollution.
Background: The global focus on improved cookstoves (ICSs) and clean fuels has increased because of their potential for delivering triple dividends: household health, local environmental quality, and regional climate benefits. However, ICS and clean fuel dissemination programs have met with low rates of adoption.
Objectives: We reviewed empirical studies on ICSs and fuel choice to describe the literature, examine determinants of fuel and stove choice, and identify knowledge gaps.
Methods: We conducted a systematic review of the literature on the adoption of ICSs or cleaner fuels by households in developing countries. Results are synthesized through a simple vote-counting meta-analysis. RESULTS: We identified 32 research studies that reported 146 separate regression analyses of ICS adoption (11 analyses) or fuel choice (135 analyses) from Asia (60%), Africa (27%), and Latin America (19%). Most studies apply multivariate regression methods to consider 7-13 determinants of choice. Income, education, and urban location were positively associated with adoption in most but not all studies. However, the influence of fuel availability and prices, household size and composition, and sex is unclear. Potentially important drivers such as credit, supply-chain strengthening, and social marketing have been ignored.
Conclusions: Adoption studies of ICSs or clean energy are scarce, scattered, and of differential quality, even though global distribution programs are quickly expanding. Future research should examine an expanded set of contextual variables to improve implementation of stove programs that can realize the "win-win-win" of health, local environmental quality, and climate associated with these technologies.
Research on urban vulnerability has grown considerably during recent years, yet consists primarily of case studies based on conflicting theories and paradigms. Assessing urban vulnerability is also generally considered to be context-dependent. We argue, however, that it is possible to identify some common patterns of vulnerability across urban centers and research paradigms and these commonalities hold potential for the development of a common set of tools to enhance response capacity within multiple contexts. To test this idea we conduct an analysis of 54 papers on urban vulnerability to temperature-related hazards, covering 222 urban areas in all regions of the world. The originality of this effort is in the combination of a standard metaanalysis with a meta-knowledge approach that allows us not only to integrate and summarize results across many studies, but also to identify trends in the literature and examine differences in methodology, theoretical frameworks and causation narratives and thereby to compare “apples to oranges.” We find that the vast majority of papers examining urban vulnerability to temperature-related hazards come from an urban vulnerability as impact approach, and cities from middle and low income countries are understudied. One of the challenges facing scholarship on urban vulnerability is to supplement the emphasis on disciplinary boxes (e.g., temperature–mortality relationships) with an interdisciplinary and integrated approach to adaptive capacity and structural drivers of differences in vulnerability. [Copyright &y& Elsevier] Copyright of Global Environmental Change Part A: Human & Policy Dimensions is the property of Pergamon Press - An Imprint of Elsevier Science and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract.
What is the aim of the review?
To examine the effectiveness of the ‘greening’ of urban areas in reducing human exposure to ground level ozone concentrations, UV exposure and the ‘urban heat island effect’.
Growing medical evidence shows that access to the natural environment improves health and wellbeing, prevents disease and helps people recover from illness. Experiencing nature in the outdoors can help tackle obesity and coronary heart disease. Green areas exert their benefits on both physical and mental health, promoting physical activity and strengthening the sense of community thus positively influencing social interaction. Urbanization poses problems through effects such as environmental pollution, accidents, heat island effects, climate change and a consequent demand for urban green areas. Material and methods: We performed literature searches of electronic journal databases for studies and reviews that focused on the relationship between green spaces and health. We looked at the effects on physical health, mental health, social health, physical activity and well-being in its broadest sense and then we categorically organized our findings. Results: We found many contradictory and unexpected results. However, the reported findings were generally consistent and supported the current view that urban design and the availability of urban green spaces are key elements of prosperity and individual/collective comfort, so as to influence both the perceived health and the objective physical conditions in a measurable way. A weak relationship between physical activity levels and green space availability is observed. Conclusions: The occasionally contradictory results that emerged in this study suggest that a population's response to urban design interventions is often unpredictable. Further research is needed to quantify the strength of relation between green spaces and urban health, but also to investigate the social and behavioural aspects which are more difficult to measure and understand.
Using disease surveillance data the authors demonstrated significant spatial spreading among increasingly urban counties. Counties with the least (<38%) forest cover had 4.4-fold greater odds of above-median disease incidence than those with the most forest cover quantifying urbanization as a risk factor for West Nile Virus (WNV) disease incidence. This summary is not an official abstract. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract
The authors tested the hypothesis that willingness to financially support conservation depends on one’s experience with nature using a novel time-lagged correlation analysis. Specifically, they evaluated the relationship of times series data concerning nature participation with future conservation support (measured as contributions to conservation NGOs 11-12 years later). Their results revealed differences in future conservation investment according to the type and timing of nature experience (e.g. hiking versus fishing) suggesting that current declines in the former will negatively impact future contributions to conservation NGOs. Riggsbee A, Doyle MW (2009) Environmental Markets: The Power of Regulation Science 326(5956): 1061 In this Science letter regarding Palmer and Filoso’s previous article “Restoration of Ecosystem Services for Environmental Markets”, the authors agree that direct measurement of ecosystem processes and third-party verification are critical steps. They also agree that more stringent criteria must be established for restoration as part of ecosystem markets. These authors argue that making restoration success criteria more rigorous will increase costs and verification of project success will add yet an additional expense. Financial risks will increase with greater uncertainty causing investors to increase required rates of return. The net result will be an increase in mitigation costs which will need to be recouped by charging more for mitigation credits. This will, in turn, drive up the costs of affecting ecosystems, serving as a deterrent to damaging them. They present the case that increased restoration quality requirements could reduce the demand for compensatory mitigation by providing incentives for avoidance. This they feel is likely the most substantial benefit of more expensive restoration. This summary is not an official abstract. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract