The NHS Forest’s collection of evidence and resources covers all aspects of green space and health. Here you can find relevant academic research, policy briefings, tools and reports covering a whole spectrum of issues, from biodiversity and climate change to green social prescribing and connection to nature.
Use the filters on the left to search for specific resource types or topics of interest. If you think we’ve missed something, do let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Environment Agency, 2022
Chief Scientist’s Group report on the importance of nature in providing ecosystem services, presenting recent and historical trends in biodiversity. It includes examples of where nature-based solutions have the potential to meet the government’s environmental commitments, with case studies demonstrating places in the UK where some of these solutions are being put into practice.
Nature-based interventions to promote health for people with stress-related illness: An integrative review
Johansson et al., 2022
The aim of this study was to identify and summarise scientific studies of nature based interventions to promote health for people with stress-related illness. It found that nature based interventions offer restoration that reduces stress, improves health and well-being and strengthens self-efficacy and work ability. It found that nature connectedness supports existential reflections that help people with stress-related illnesses achieve balance in everyday life.
McDougall et al., 2022
This study examined the physical and mental wellbeing benefits of freshwater wild swimming in lochs in Scotland, filling a gap in the research as most other studies on this topic have focused on the sea. It found that freshwater wild swimming had a variety of health and well-being benefits that can be categorised over three domains of health: physical, mental and social. Mental health benefits e.g., mindfulness promotion, resilience building and increasing one’s ability to listen to their body, were particularly prominent.
Increased Wellbeing following Engagement in a Group Nature-Based Programme: The Green Gym Programme Delivered by the Conservation Volunteers
Smyth et al., 2022
The wellbeing benefits of engaging in a nature-based programme, delivered by the Voluntary, Community and Social Enterprise sector, were examined in this study. Prior to attending The Conservation Volunteers’ Green Gym™, attendees completed demographics, health characteristics and the Warwick Edinburgh Mental Wellbeing Short-Form Scale. Attendees provided a measure on average 4.5 months later. There were significant increases in wellbeing after engaging in Green Gym, with the greatest increases in those who had the lowest starting levels of wellbeing. Wellbeing increases were sustained on average 8.5 months and 13 months later in those providing a follow up measure.
Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, 2022
Wetlands are highly important for wildlife as well as providing great wellbeing benefits to people that live near or visit them. However in the past 500 years England has lost 90% of its wetlands. This report sets out the case for restoring and expanding wetlands to provide people with increased areas of blue spaces and access to the wellbeing benefits these provide. It proposes new wetlands ranging from large-scale parks supporting whole communities, to restoring streams flowing through neighbourhoods, to street-side rain gardens and back-yard mini-ponds fed by drainpipes. It sets out the evidence for the wellbeing benefits of wetlands as well as their climate benefits, such as cooling cities, reducing flooding and curbing air pollution. It argues that the creation of new wildlife-rich wetlands could help address inequalities in wellbeing and access to nature.
Where the wild things are! Do urban green spaces with greater avian biodiversity promote more positive emotions in humans?
Cameron et al., 2020
This study examined whether greater biodiversity increased the wellbeing benefits of green spaces. They found that greater biodiversity produced more positive emotions in participants, and interestingly, also found that greater perceived biodiversity had the same effect: if participants thought that a site had greater biodiversity, they experienced more positive emotions, regardless of whether this was actually true.
In late 2020, CSH) was awarded a grant of £544,565 from the Government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund for its Green Space for Health programme. The grant provided a year of funding for three workstreams. An evaluation plan for the project was devised in consultation with our academic adviser; this report sets out results of our evaluation and outlines the legacy plans for the project.
Bringing nature into CAMHS inpatient services: reflections for the implementation and integration of training into practice
Hunt et al., 2022
This is a qualitative study with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) inpatient staff who trained as NatureWell facilitators to bring nature-based activities into mental health therapy with patients. The training was effective in empowering staff to undertake nature-based activities such as gardening groups, crafts, grounding exercises and walks. They found that engaging patients through their five senses helped manage distress, and that making links with a patient between nature and their mental health provided patients with the opportunity to take an active role in their own recovery. There were also positive benefits for staff that underwent the training, which prompted them to include more nature connection in their personal days, for example through taking lunchtime walks. Patients and staff both provided positive feedback about the effect of NatureWell training and the nature-based activities.
Nature doesn’t judge you – how urban nature supports young people’s mental health and wellbeing in a diverse UK city
Birch et al., 2020
This article explored the sense of nature connection among young people in diverse communities in Sheffield. It found evidence for a strong feeling that nature provided numerous wellbeing benefits, as well as a sense of responsibility towards caring for nature, challenging the idea of an endemic “nature deficit disorder” among young people. It found that young people gain benefits through experiencing everyday urban nature, not just nature in rural settings. However, these findings were not universally felt, and gaps in access to nature affected the ability of participants to experience the full range of benefits of nature connection.
This toolkit provides advice on managing woodlands for wildlife, in particular rare and declining species that are dependent on woodland habitats. It includes practical advice on management, species factsheets, management planning tools and condition assessment guidance.