Towards a better inclusion of green spaces in urban planning?

Staffordshire University (England) recently hosted PHENOTYPE’s stakeholder symposium. Here is a good opportunity to introduce this interesting European project.

(CC BY-SA 2.0) © Copyright Steve Lewin

(CC BY-SA 2.0) © Copyright Steve Lewin

PHENOTYPE (2012-2015) for the Positive Health Effects of the Natural Outdoor environment in Typical Populations in different regions in Europe is a European project funded through the European Commission Seventh Framework Programme. Its aim is “to investigate the interconnections between exposure to natural outdoor environments, and improved human health & wellbeing.”

More and more evidence suggests that close contact with green space has positive human health effects. However the proposed mechanisms explaining this relationship are not well understood. Furthermore, most of the research has been conducted in the USA and in the North-West of Europe. Hence the question of the generalisation of their results.

PHENOTYPE proposes to address the limitation of these studies with a collaborative research conducted in four case cities: Barcelona (Spain), Doetinchem (the Netherlands), Kaunas (Lithuania), and Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom). It examines the possible underlying mechanisms (physical activity, social interaction, stress reduction/restorative function, exposure to environmental hazards) which would explain why close contact with nature benefits to human health and well-being. The long-term and short-term associations with health for different population groups are explored.

On top of these studies, PHENOTYPE offers to establish relations with key stakeholders at every level (from local to international), such as policymakers, urban planners, health professionals, etc. Unlike other research projects, stakeholder involvement is here seen as critical because of implications for land-use planning and green space management of the project’s work.

According to preliminary findings, there is some evidence about positive effects of green spaces on pregnant women[1], on cardiovascular health[2], on general and mental health[3].

Engaging any sustainable policy requires indeed evidence on the positive impact of sustainable development. PHENOTYPE project could be a key player for that purpose.

For more information on the project:






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