Journal article

Beyond greenspace: an ecological study of population general health and indicators of natural environment type and quality

Benedict W Wheeler, Rebecca Lovell, Sahran L Higgins, Mathew P White, Ian Alcock, Nicholas J Osborne, Kerryn Husk, Clive E Sabel, Michael H Depledge



BACKGROUND: Many studies suggest that exposure to natural environments ('greenspace') enhances human health and wellbeing. Benefits potentially arise via several mechanisms including stress reduction, opportunity and motivation for physical activity, and reduced air pollution exposure. However, the evidence is mixed and sometimes inconclusive. One explanation may be that "greenspace" is typically treated as a homogenous environment type. However, recent research has revealed that different types and qualities of natural environments may influence health and wellbeing to different extents. METHODS: This ecological study explores this issue further using data on land cover type, bird species r..

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University of Melbourne Researchers


Awarded by Economic and Social Research Council

Funding Acknowledgements

This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council [ES/K002872/1]. The European Centre for Environment and Human Health (part of the University of Exeter Medical School) is in part financed by the European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013 and European Social Fund Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. The funders did not influence the collection, analysis or interpretation of data, the writing of the manuscript or the decision to submit the manuscript for publication. BW thanks Dr Jan Rigby and Maynooth University for hosting a research visit during which work on the paper was carried out. We acknowledge the sources of the environmental data used for this work: Dr Simon Gillings at the British Trust for Ornithology, the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the Environment Agency for England and Wales, the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency, Natural England, Natural Resources Wales and Scottish Natural Heritage. Census data were sourced from the Office for National Statistics and are (c) Crown Copyright 2013. Due to the nature of some of the research materials (secondary data under licence) supporting this publication, not all of the data can be made accessible to other researchers. Please contact Dr Ben Wheeler ( for more information. The project benefited from the valuable guidance of an advisory board, detailed on the project blog ( The work presented here remains the responsibility of the authors alone.