A new £7 million study will explore how greater access to green spaces and areas of water can reduce chronic and non-infectious diseases such as diabetes and cancer.
Led by the universities of Edinburgh and Liverpool, alongside Queens University Belfast, the work will look to build on existing evidence that urban spaces such as parks and woodlands have positive impacts on people’s health.
Over the next five years, the trio of institutes will work with residents in Edinburgh, Belfast and Liverpool to engage citizens in planning and co-designing open spaces – with a particular focus on areas that with high levels of health inequalities.
Experts in health, data and community engagement will be involved in the work, which will see collaborations with local authorities and charities to evaluate how changes in access to natural environments over time make a difference.
The University of Edinburgh said that it is hoped that the findings will inform a UK-wide and global approach which harnesses the positive impact that nature can have on health outcomes.
Professor Ruth Jepson, of the University of Edinburgh’s school of health in social science, said, “We propose a new way of working that encourages communities to work with our partners to design and manage spaces that benefit everyone, especially those who need it most.”