The natural environment and health priorities

Photograph of sign bearing NHS logo, vegetation in background

The challenge

There are now strong incentives to initiate more targeted long-term partnerships between people in working at the core of the health system and those seeing to improve access to the natural outdoors:

  • Physical inactivity is costly for core health services.
  • Access to nature plays a role in health inequalities.

National schemes such as Walking for Health and Green Gyms have operated in the UK for many years, bringing health benefits to many individuals.  The challenge is to bring about local partnerships between healthare professionals, the planning profession, designers and land managers. These need to focus on health outcomes for individuals and populations, recognising the multiple benefits that arise from investment in natural outdoor spaces (flood risk reduction, recreation etc).

Guidance and examples

A list of on-line guidance and examples has been created by the Network to help those responsible for the natural-outdoors and those working directly in the health system.


In association with the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and others, the Ecosystems Knowledge Network is running a series of workshops to help those working in the health system, as well as those in the natural outdoors, on this topic.

Section Champion

Rachel Stancliffe, Director of the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, is working with the Ecosystems Knowledge Network to help stimulate more effective partnerships between those responsible for local health priorities, and those seeking to improve access to the natural outdoors.