Toward improved public health outcomes from urban nature

Am J Public Health. 2015 Mar;105(3):470-7. doi: 10.2105/AJPH.2014.302324. Epub 2015 Jan 20.


There is mounting concern for the health of urban populations as cities expand at an unprecedented rate. Urban green spaces provide settings for a remarkable range of physical and mental health benefits, and pioneering health policy is recognizing nature as a cost-effective tool for planning healthy cities. Despite this, limited information on how specific elements of nature deliver health outcomes restricts its use for enhancing population health. We articulate a framework for identifying direct and indirect causal pathways through which nature delivers health benefits, and highlight current evidence. We see a need for a bold new research agenda founded on testing causality that transcends disciplinary boundaries between ecology and health. This will lead to cost-effective and tailored solutions that could enhance population health and reduce health inequalities.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Causality
  • City Planning / economics
  • City Planning / standards*
  • City Planning / trends
  • Cost-Benefit Analysis
  • Ecosystem*
  • Environment Design / economics
  • Environment Design / standards*
  • Environment Design / trends
  • Health Behavior*
  • Health Planning / economics
  • Health Planning / standards*
  • Health Planning / trends
  • Humans
  • Nature
  • Urban Health*