Name of scholarship/program
Designing and managing forests for health
The international evidence suggests that exposure to green environments (including forests) is associated with health benefits, including lower mortality rates, blood pressure and obesity levels as well as better self-perceived health. Further, previous studies suggest that the availability of green space may reduce health inequalities. Three key mechanisms have been implicated in explaining the green space and health associations. First, green space provides opportunities for physical activity (PA), and increased PA levels are associated with reduced risks of physical and mental illnesses. Second, green space facilitates social contacts, for example through providing opportunities to meet others or participate in group activities. Third, exposure (physical and visual contact) to green space can promote recovery from attention fatigue and stress, and stress has been implicated in the aetiology of common chronic physical and mental illnesses.
Eligibility and other criteria
Despite the volume of conceptual and empirical work on green space and health, important gaps in the knowledge base remain. In particular, it is unclear whether different types of green environments (e.g. parkland, coastal areas and woodland) have differential effects on health. This research gap has left policy makers bereft of insights into which greening interventions are likely to result in the maximum benefits for health and well-being, and address health inequalities. The focus of this study is on forestry and population-level health. The aims of the research are to:
(1) evaluate the literature considering the relationships between forestry (and other forms of green spaces) and health;
(2) develop a health related forest classification for Scotland to inform a spatial strategy for the health-centred management of woodlands;
(3) examine links between forestry and community health across Scotland;
(4) develop a ranked profile of communities with good or bad forestry-related health outcomes with a view to developing a needs appraisal; (5) contribute to the knowledge base supporting a spatial strategy regarding the range and level of wellbeing benefits that can be expected from forestry.
Working in close collaboration with the Forestry Commission, this project will provide new insights into the relationship between forestry and health in Scotland. It will also deliver new GIS products to compliment the ongoing work in the Commissions GIS system (SIFT). The project also supports the Commission and the Scottish Government work priorities including the Scottish Forest Strategy (particularly Key Theme 5 Access and Health) and numerous Scottish Government priorities (e.g. four national outcomes: tackling inequalities; securing longer and healthier lives; delivering sustainable places and valuing our natural environment).
European/UK Students Only:
This research project has funding attached. Funding for this project is available to citizens of a number of European countries (including the UK). In most cases this will include all EU nationals. However full funding may not be available to all applicants and you should read the full department and project details for further information.
*17 December 2012
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