Healthy Parks Healthy People

The evidence is clear and growing. Spending time in the natural environment, in places like parks, is good for your mind, body and soul.

In the second part of our focus series on the IUCN World Parks Congress we look at the many ways protected areas such as nature reserves and national parks benefit people. As well as offering places for physical activity and recreation, the benefits of parks include providing medicines, regulating disease and supporting livelihoods. 

For many people there’s nothing better than getting out and enjoying the best of what nature has to offer. But we are spending more and more time indoors and our physical and mental health is suffering because of it. The medical profession is starting to take note and you’ll see from the video below how a growing number of doctors are ‘prescribing parks’.

Read more about the Improving Health and Wellbeing theme of the World Parks Congress.

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over civilised people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.”
John Muir, founder of the Sierra Club, 1898.

Doctors prescribe parks

News and features

Bill Jackson, Chief Executive of Parks Victoria

On the move

Interview with Bill Jackson, Chief Executive, Parks Victoria, co-leader of the World Parks Congress stream Improving Health and Wellbeing …  

07 Apr 2014 | Article

Healthy Parks Healthy People

Healthy Parks, Healthy People – gathering the evidence

We know that protected areas — or parks — conserve biodiversity, store carbon, provide clean air and water, underpin tourism and provide many recreation opportunities. …  

07 Apr 2014 | Article

Participants at Khao Yai Nationa Park

10 reasons why doctors should prescribe parks

There is a growing body of evidence that shows the benefits to human health and wellbeing of spending time in nature. …  

07 Apr 2014 | Article

Volunteers learning how to identify Hawkweed species at a newly-discovered infestation

Australian Alps in better health thanks to volunteers

Involving volunteers in environmental projects is a great way to tackle environmental issues as well as offering people the chance to experience the physical and mental health benefits of connecting with nature. …  

07 Apr 2014 | Article

Raising awareness of Singapore's wildlife

Singapore – keeping a growing population in touch with nature

In a developed and highly populated city like Singapore, space is at a premium. Keeping people connected to nature and making sure they have access to natural spaces requires a comprehensive and long-term approach to land use planning. …  

07 Apr 2014 | Article

Schisandra fruit

Better and better

An award-winning project involving the sustainable collection of a medicinal plant by village cooperatives in protected panda habitat in central China is bringing benefits for people, wildlife and business alike …  

07 Apr 2014 | Article

Refugees working in Werribee

Working beyond the boundaries

Parks Victoria in Australia is running a successful partnership programme that is helping refugees gain employment and language skills while connecting with their local park, to the benefit of both the people and the park. The programme includes a thriving community garden project, complete with a horticultural educational facility. …  

14 Apr 2014 | News story