Open Voices Blog

News and conversations about the growing evidence of the healing power of nature and green development in cities

Green spaces as an “under-recognized healer”

Posted on 09/29/17

Our friends on the other side of the pond recently released a report lauding the great and many benefits of nature — calling it an “under-recognized healer”. While the findings align with what we already know (nothing surprising for our fellow-champions of green spaces), we paused a moment at the phrase “under-recognized healer”. Perfectly stated.

As a nation, we invest billions of dollars searching for new drugs and therapies to treat a constellation of ills. Yet, we are guilty of not fully recognizing, or taking advantage of, this great and potent agent of health and wellbeing that already exists. Hard to comprehend, really.

The report, authored by the Institute for European Policy (IEEP), was fodder for a recent article in The Guardian, which homed in on the fact that people who live close to green spaces are less likely to be obese, inactive or dependent on anti-depressants.

The IEEP team responsible for the report, according to The Guardian, spent a year reviewing more than 200 academic studies for the report, which they stated is the most wide-ranging probe yet into the dynamics of health, nature and wellbeing.

Congruent with what has been observed in the US, the study also highlighted a disparity between wealthy and poorer communities regarding access to green spaces; something we have been working to combat for decades through our Nature Sacred Network.

The article also referenced studies by Roger Ulrich and Marc Berman, both researchers were funded as part of our Nature Sacred Awards program. Ulrich has led a cluster of studies involving a therapeutic garden we helped fund at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in Portland while Berman’s TKF-supported work has focused on studies meant to help us better understand why and how nature affects us as it does.

The weight of reports like this can only help us move the needle when it comes to raising awareness for the importance of green spaces to our health. And this one does a good job of summarizing the research that’s out there. You may want to bookmark this one.

Download it here: Nature for Health and Equity.

Check out the full article in The Guardian: Access to nature reduces depression and obesity, finds European study.

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    We are a private nonprofit that supports, informs, and inspires the creation of publicly accessible urban green spaces. We believe that every city resident needs nearby green space to provide opportunities for mindfulness, respite, and renewal. The Foundation has issued its final grants to build five Open Spaces Sacred Places and research the impacts on a variety of users with the hope that the powerful connection between nature, spirit and human wellbeing will be scientifically proven.

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