Here is the second part of Natural England’s recent round up of evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items.  This supports the Strategic Research Groups for Learning in Natural Environments and Outdoors for All in order to develop better coherence and collaboration in research and to improve links between research, policy and practice in these areas.  The following items have a focus on reports and research.

Application of the Human Well-Being Index to Sensitive Population Divisions: a Children’s Well-Being Index Development
KD Buck, JK Summers, LM Smith, LC Harwell – Child Indicators Research
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) developed the Human Well-Being Index (HWBI), as a way of measuring  outcomes and assessing community characteristics. The HWBI approach produces a suite of indicators, domains and a final composite index appropriate for characterizing well-being of a population. This paper presents an adaption of the HWBI for child populations to test the applicability of the index framework to specific community enclaves. A Children’s Well-Being Index (CWBI) value, representing the same indicators and domains of well-being as the original HWBI, was calculated for the population under age 18 across all US counties for 2011. Implications of this research point to an effective, holistic end-point measure that can be tracked over time

Urban green space for health and well-being: developing an ‘affordances’ framework for planning and design
M Lennon, O Douglas, M Scott – Journal of Urban Design, 2017
A vast literature exploring environmental influences on human health and well-being has provided renewed interest in connecting planning for the built environment with health initiatives. This paper responds to an identified need for a conceptually-informed framework for green space planning and design for health and well-being that moves beyond attribute-descriptive studies. The notion of an ‘affordances star’ is proposed as a means to maximise the functionality and inclusivity of green space for health and well-being.

Urban green space interventions and health: a review of impacts and effectiveness
World Health Organisation report – including involvement from Liz O’Brien, C Ward-Thompson, B Wheeler
A WHO report provides the results of an evidence review and an assessment of local case studies on urban green space interventions. The findings show that interventions to increase or improve urban green space can deliver positive health, social and environmental outcomes for all population groups, particularly among lower socioeconomic status groups. Yet, there is a need for better inclusion of health and equity outcomes in studies on green space interventions, and an improved monitoring of local green space management and related health and equity impacts.

Transforming Mental Health and Dementia Provision
The report from last year’s conference, “Transforming Mental Health and Dementia Provision with the Natural Environment” captures the headline findings and recommendations and is published as a full report and executive summary. The slides from the day’s presentations are also available online.

Gardening is beneficial for health: A meta-analysis
Soga, Gaston and Yamaura. Preventive Medicine Reports
This study has provided robust evidence for the positive effects of gardening on health. A regular dose of gardening can improve public health.

Exposure to greenness and mortality in a nationwide prospective cohort study of women
James et al.  Environmental Health Perspectives 
Using data from the Nurses’ Health Study, a prospective cohort study that was initiated in 1976, the Harvard researchers followed over 100,000 women between 2000-2008. They used a satellite image-based vegetation index of the area surrounding each participant’s home to estimate exposure to greenery. Higher levels of greenery were found to be associated with decreased mortality.

Families in the forest: guilt trips, bonding moments and potential springboards
Goodenough, Waite and Bartlett – Annals of Leisure Research
The article is based upon practitioner research Good from Woods programme that aimed to develop research capacity in the third sector and explore social cohesion and well-being outcomes derived from woodland activities. The intervention seemed to alleviate pressure to provide positive outdoor experiences, engendering both self-confidence as ‘competent parents’ in guided events and possibly stimulating independent family engagement with nature

The Drivers of the Life Satisfaction of Pro-environment and Non-pro-environment People
O Leelakulthanit – Asian Social Science, 2017
Happiness or life satisfaction tends to be the ultimate goal of human beings. It is the intention of this study to investigate the factors influencing the life satisfaction of pro-environment and non-pro-environment people.. The results suggest that pro-environment people are likely to be more satisfied with their lives than non-pro-environment people and that the life satisfaction of the pro-environment people was positively influenced by the biospheric value of being a nature lover, self-actualization, and age, and was negatively influenced by education.

Beyond knowing nature: Contact, emotion, compassion, meaning, and beauty are pathways to nature connection
R Lumber, M Richardson, D Sheffield – PLoS One, 2017
Feeling connected to nature has been shown to be beneficial to wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviour. General nature contact and knowledge based activities are often used in an attempt to engage people with nature. However the specific routes to nature connectedness have not been examined systematically. Two online surveys of engagement with, and value of, nature activities structured around the nine values of the Biophila Hypothesis were conducted. The findings indicate that contact, emotion, meaning, compassion, and beauty are pathways for improving nature connectedness. The pathways also provide alternative values and frames to the traditional knowledge and identification routes often used by organisations when engaging the public with nature.

A national initiative to understand  and connect Americans and nature
Researchers – Professor Stephen R. Kellert, Dr. Daniel Escher, Dr. Jessica Mikels-Carrasco, Phil T. Seng, Dr Daniel J. Witter
New large scale study report from the US on reconnection with nature. There are 8 major findings and 22 recommendations

Beyond the roots of human inaction: Fostering collective effort toward ecosystem conservation
E Amel, C Manning, B Scott, S Koger – Science, 2017
Psychologists already contribute to individual-level behavior-change campaigns in the service of sustainability, but attention is turning toward understanding and facilitating the role of individuals in collective and collaborative actions that will modify the environmentally damaging systems in which humans are embedded. Especially crucial in moving toward long-term human and environmental well-being are transformational individuals who step outside of the norm, embrace ecological principles, and inspire collective action. Particularly in developed countries, fostering legions of sustainability leaders rests upon a fundamental renewal of humans’ connection to the natural world.

Where do biospheric values come from? A connectedness to nature perspective
C Martin, S Czellar – Journal of Environmental Psychology, 2017
While extant research suggests that holding biospheric values may foster environmentally friendly behavior, we need to learn more about the development of such values at an individual level.. Our findings show that stronger (vs. weaker) self-nature connections in individuals are related to stronger (vs. weaker) biospheric value orientations, which in turn are associated with various forms of sustainable behavior.

Understanding Action and Adventure Sports Participation—An Ecological Dynamics Perspective
T Immonen, E Brymer, D Orth, K Davids, F Feletti, J Liukkonen, J Jaakkola – Sports Medicine-Open, 2017
Traditional narratives have typically considered participation exclusively as the pastime of young people with abnormal characteristics or personalities having unhealthy and pathological tendencies to take risks because of the need for thrill, excitement or an adrenaline ‘rush’. Conversely, recent research has linked even the most extreme forms of action and adventure sports to positive physical and psychological health and well-being outcomes. Here, we argue that traditional frameworks have led to definitions which ignore key elements constituting the essential merit of these sports. The purpose of this paper is twofold: (a) to point out some limitations of existing research on action and adventure sports; (b) based on key ideas from emerging research and an ecological dynamics approach, to propose a holistic multidisciplinary model for defining and understanding action and adventure sports that may better guide future research and practical implications.

A socio-cultural approach to understanding the development of nature sports
Mello and Gomes. Chapter in – Sport Tourism: New Challenges in a Globalized World, 2017

Cultural ecosystem benefits of urban and peri-urban green infrastructure across different European countries
O’Brien et al. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
Green Infrastructure within urban areas has become increasingly important in recent years. This paper explicitly identifies the cultural ecosystem benefits gained from urban and peri-urban green infrastructure drawing on studies undertaken in different European countries. A review of literature identified studies from fifteen different countries and explores linkages between the types of green infrastructure, the practices undertaken in these spaces and the cultural ecosystem benefits gained. The results show that there are few detailed linkages made between the types of green infrastructure and the practices and benefits associated with these. A key message is that the cultural ecosystem benefits identified are wide ranging, diverse and multiple

Disneyization and the Provision of Leisure Experiences
S Beames, M Brown – Chapter in The Palgrave Handbook of Leisure Theory, 2017
This chapter outlines a particular theoretical framework called Disneyization and uses this set of concepts to examine leisure patterns.. Armed with some foundational social theory on globalization and the four features of Disneyization, this chapter explores the degree to which a variety of leisure experiences can be considered to be Disneyized. The analysis continues with a discussion about how Disneyization can be seen to have both positive and negative implications for leisure in the twenty-first century.


The  complete report can be viewed here.

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