In a new study, researchers found living within 300m of urban green space such as parks, nature reserves or play areas is associated with greater happiness, sense of worth, and life satisfaction.
The research was conducted by a team from the University of Warwick, Newcastle University and the University of Sheffield.
It has long been understood that people feel positive emotions when exposed to natural environments, and successive Governments have enshrined this in planning guidance.
But how much green space is needed and how close does it need to be to people’s homes to make a difference?
In the study, the team used new geospatial research techniques to create an accurate measure of the link between green space and 3 different aspects of mental wellbeing.
By combining survey responses from 25,518 participants in the UK government’s Annual Population Survey (APS) with data on the shape, size and location of London’s 20,000 public green spaces, the team were able to more accurately model green-space distribution in relation to where each of the 25,518 survey participants lived, and explore how that influenced their mental wellbeing as revealed in their survey answers.
The team found overall there is a very strong link between the amount of green space around a person’s home and their feelings of life satisfaction, happiness, and self-worth.
Green space within 300m of the home had the greatest influence on mental wellbeing
An increase of 1 hectare—about the size of an international Rugby Union pitch—within 300m of residents was associated with an increase of 8 percentage points in life satisfaction, 7 in worth and 5 in happiness.
Green space was less important for mental wellbeing in Central London and East London.
This is the first study to demonstrate how urban green-spaces may improve a broader definition of mental wellbeing.
The team hopes it could, therefore, lead to healthier, happier and more productive urban landscapes in the future.
One author of the study is Dr. Victoria Houlden.
The study is published in Applied Geography.
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