Bundesamt für Naturschutz


Literatur NatGesIs

Nature and Health - The influence of nature on social, psychological and physical well-being. Part 1 of a two-part study: review of the current level of knowledge




Health Council of the Netherlands




Health Council of the Netherlands


For many people, nature is a place to relax and recover from the stresses of day-to-day life. The hectic pace of modern society means that people are turning more and more to nature for relaxation and recreation. However, in an increasingly populated and urbanised society, nature is no longer an inevitable component of the immediate living environment.
To find nature, we have to travel greater and greater distances, by car, train or plane. Nature policy recognises the increasing demand for ?nature for people?, particularly
in and around towns and cities. In health-policy circles, there is currently little interest in the possible benefits of nature in terms of health. However, more and more initiatives are emerging in the healthcare sector that indicate a renewed appreciation for nature as a ?curative? phenomenon. For example, more and more care institutions have 'healing gardens? and ?green? activities. There is a greater emphasis during the construction of new hospitals on ?healing environments?. The number of ?care farms? catering to individuals suffering from burn-out, for example, is also rising.
What knowledge on a possibly beneficial influence of nature on our health and wellbeing has so far been obtained through scientific research? This is the central question in this advisory report. First, a link between nature and health can be established directly, through indicators for health and well-being. The limited amount of direct evidence is therefore the starting point in this report. Second, a connection between health and nature can be established indirectly, by looking at how nature influences actions or mechanisms which in turn influence health. The much more extensive scientific knowledge on these intermediary mechanisms is also discussed.
The following intermediary mechanisms have been chosen: 1) recovery from stress and attention fatigue,
2) encouragement of exercise,
3) facilitating social contact,
4) stimulation of development in children and
5) stimulation of personal development and a sense of purpose. An overview is given of the current level of knowledge on these mechanisms, as well as an assessment of the gaps in that knowledge and recommendations for research to extend current knowledge.

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