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Nature Contact and Human Health Working Group

Nature and Health Working Group

The Nature and Health Working Group is a growing community of doctors, scientists, educators, landscape architects, recreation advocates and others interested in exploring how experiences in nature benefit human health and well-being. We are building a community of practice across disciplines and sectors, scoping and implementing a research agenda, developing a policy and action blueprint and defining and incubating fundable initiatives and research projects. Our goals are to stimulate awareness of the health benefits of nature, and implement findings that benefit both people and the environment.

People derive many psychological and physical health benefits from being in nature. The Center is supporting a forum that brings together researchers and practitioners from the medical, public health, design and planning, parks and recreation, and environmental fields from the academic, public, private, and NGO sectors, to assess evidence linking nature to human health, and explore the implications for policy and planning.

Project goals:

  • identify knowledge gaps and delineate important directions for future research
  • incubate and facilitate research projects
  • raise the profile and awareness of the strong links between health and the natural environment
  • highlight and share the latest research findings about the health benefits of natural spaces
  • identify challenges and needs in the fields of public health, planning, parks, and the environment; and
  • support and launch policies and programs that promote and enhance the health benefits of natural spaces, from urban greenspace to wilderness.

Our major accomplishments to date are publishing a research agenda to promote further study of the human health benefits of nature contact and hosting a symposium to showcase the latest innovations in research, policy and practice supporting the nature-health connection. Project leads include Howard Frumkin, professor in the UW School of Public Health, and Joshua Lawler, professor of environmental and forest Sciences at UW.

List of participants