Not All Green Space Is Created Equal: Biodiversity Predicts Psychological Restorative Benefits From Urban Green Space

Emma Wood, Alice Harsant, Martin Dallimer, Anna Cronin de Chavez, Rosemary R. C. McEachan, Christopher Hassall
  • Frontiers in Psychology, November 2018, Frontiers Media SA
  • DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2018.02320

What is it about?

When you feel like you’re drowning in the stresses of everyday life, you may find yourself dreaming about taking a break to the countryside or having a walk in the park. Many people find that being surrounded by nature relieves them of their worries and gives them a sense of restoration. The link between the natural world and psychological well-being in humans has been discussed in the scientific world for some time; However, relatively few studies look at specific aspects, such as biodiversity levels, of greenspaces and their relationship to human psychology. Additionally, with a growing proportion of the population now residing in cities, interest in urban greenspaces has increased in recent years. This study looks at the link between the quality of greenspaces and psychological well-being in Bradford, UK. By carrying out floral and faunal surveys, the researchers in this study were able to quantify the levels of biodiversity of 12 greenspaces around the city. They also collected data about site facilities (e.g. types of amenities found in the greenspace) to see whether this had a relationship with biodiversity levels. To better understand the psychological effects of these greenspaces, over 120 park users were surveyed too. The first finding from this study reveals a positive relationship between site facilities and biodiversity which has important implications for conservation. Secondly, this study finds that the restorative value of the greenspace is predicted by the biodiversity levels found at the site. The researchers also explore factors such as ethnicity, age and gender of park users and the effects these may have on the restorative benefits that can be obtained. The applicability of the results to policymaking is also discussed.

Why is it important?

Although the link between psychological well-being and nature has been explored previously, much of the literature is theoretical or anecdotal. This study is important because it is one of the first to look at specific aspects of greenspaces, such as the levels of biodiversity found at each site, and explore their effects on human psychological well-being. Looking at greenspaces within urban areas is also increasingly important as more and more of the UK’s population live in such areas.

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The following have contributed to this page: Dr Christopher Hassall