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Whilst urban-dwelling individuals who seek out parks and gardens appear to intuitively understand the personal health and well-being benefits arising from ‘contact with nature’, public health strategies are yet to maximize the untapped resource nature provides, including the benefits of nature contact as an upstream health promotion interven- tion for populations. This paper presents a summary of empirical, theoretical and anecdotal evidence drawn from a literature review of the human health benefits of contact with nature. Initial findings indicate that nature plays a vital role in human health and well-being, and that parks and nature reserves play a significant role by providing access to nature for individuals. Implications suggest contact with nature may provide an effective population-wide strategy in prevention of mental ill health, with potential application for sub-populations, communit- ies and individuals at higher risk of ill health. Recommenda- tions include further investigation of ‘contact with nature’ in population health, and examination of the benefits of nature-based interventions. To maximize use of ‘contact with nature’ in the health promotion of populations, collab- orative strategies between researchers and primary health, social services, urban planning and environmental manage- ment sectors are required. This approach offers not only an augmentation of existing health promotion and prevention activities, but provides the basis for a socio-ecological approach to public health that incorporates environmental sustainability.
Purpose – This paper aims to determine educators' perceptions about the benefits of contact with nature for children's mental, emotional and social health. Design/methodology/approach – The approach was exploratory using qualitative methods. Face‐to‐face interviews were conducted with school principals and teachers as well as professionals from the environmental education industry. Interviews focused on the perceived benefits for children's health from school activities involving hands‐on contact with nature. Findings – Hands‐on contact with nature is perceived by educators to improve self‐esteem, engagement with school and a sense of empowerment, among other benefits. Different types of activities are perceived to have different outcomes. A model is proposed to illustrate the findings. Research limitations/implications – Activities involving hands‐on contact with nature may have significant health outcomes for children. Further empirical work is needed to determine the extent of the benefits and provide further evidence. Practical implications – Findings support the value of activities involving nature and provide further incentive to include such activities in teaching curricula. Activities involving hands‐on contact with nature at school may be a means of promoting children's mental, emotional and social health at a crucial time in their development. Originality/value – This paper addresses two gaps in current knowledge: much research on contact with nature and health and wellbeing has focused on adults not children; despite the popularity of nature‐based activities in schools there has been no investigation into the potential of these activities to promote children's mental, emotional and social health.
In an era of dramatic environmental change, social change is desperately needed to curb burgeoning consumption. Many calls to action have focused on individual behaviour or technological innovation, with relative silence from the social sciences on other modes and methods of intervening in social life. This book shows how we can go beyond behaviour change in the pursuit of sustainability. Inspired by the ‘practice turn’ in consumption studies, this interdisciplinary book looks through the lens of social practice theory to explore important and timely questions about how to intervene in social life. It discusses a range of applied sustainability topics including energy consumption, housing provision, water demand, transport, climate change, curbside recycling and smart grids, seeking to redefine what intervention is, how it happens, and who or what can intervene to address the growing list of environmental calamities facing contemporary societies. These issues are explored through a range of specific case studies from Australia, the UK and the US, providing theoretical insights that are of international relevance. The book will be of interest to researchers and students in the fields of sociology, consumption studies, environmental studies, geography, and science and technology studies, as well as policy makers and practitioners seeking to intervene in social life for sustainability.