Adobe Stock/onepony

Exposure to and interaction with nature is known to boost mental health, but how do you incorporate that into urban planning and development? A new model proposes to do just that, as described by this article from SmartCitiesWorld.

An international collaboration has created a framework for how city planners can measure the mental health benefits of nature and incorporate those into plans and policies for cities and their residents.

The study brought together more than two dozen leading experts in the natural, social and health sciences who study aspects of how nature can benefit human wellbeing.

Benefits of nature

The international research team was led by the University of Washington (UW) and Stanford University.

According to the universities, interacting with nature is starting to be recognised as one way to improve mental health. Several scientific studies have shown that nature experiences may benefit people’s psychological wellbeing and cognitive function.

But they note it has been difficult to find ways to quantify these benefits in a useful manner for cities or organisations that want to integrate nature to improve mental health.

“Thinking about the direct mental health benefits that nature contact provides is important to take into account when planning how to conserve nature and integrate it into our cities,” said Greg Bratman, lead author and an assistant professor at the UW School of Environmental and Forest Sciences.

“The purpose of this paper is to provide a conceptual model of one way we can start to think about doing this.”

The first step for the team was to establish a baseline, collective agreement regarding the understanding of the impacts of nature experience on aspects of cognitive functioning, emotional wellbeing and other dimensions of mental health.

Read More