Investing in Nature for Health project – announcing 12 bespoke resources

SWEEP’s Investing in Nature for Health team completes its suite of 12 bespoke, evidence-based resources. The team provides a key role in applying the latest scientific evidence that demonstrates how spending time in nature leads to improvements in our physical and mental health.

As this SWEEP project concludes, the team reflects on their significant impact achievement – impressive in no small measure due to its timely and challenging delivery when key project health partners were grappling with the global COVID health pandemic.

In the face of our growing mental and physical health crisis, and living increasingly disconnected from nature, this is vital work for attracting greater investment into nature for health benefits.

Alongside 11 webinars, a new evidence database and an online HUB, the SWEEP team have delivered a suite of 12 new bespoke evidence-based resources which have been shared widely with policy makers and practitioners across the South West and beyond. Some of their feedback on the value of this work is included below, along with a flavour of the wider impact this SWEEP project has achieved

These resources have been developed in collaboration with our core project partners, and with insights gained from our programme of webinars and other engagement. Drawing on some of the latest research evidence and case studies, these demonstrate not only the value of nature for delivering health and wellbeing outcomes, but how green and blue space can best be used, improved and managed to deliver health outcomes, and the most appropriate frameworks and measures to evaluate, and quantify, success.

The 12 health resources:

  1. Making the most of green space for people’s health – guidance on how green space benefits health and can be improved, expanded and promoted to maximise benefits for people and the environment.
  2. Improving access to green space: A new review for 2020 – evidence and recommendations on the equitable provision of greenspaces for communities.
  3. Review of health and wellbeing evidence for the green infrastructure standards – summary of evidence on how green space supports health and wellbeing.
  4. Alternative funding mechanisms for green space – responding specifically to the needs of our partners during Covid, and increasing austerity, this outlines alternative mechanisms for funding green space beyond local authority provision, including case studies of successful use.
  5. More than just a skate park? A review and practical guide on how to make urban green space more accessible to adolescents to support health and wellbeing – drawing on the latest evidence from across the world, this is a review and practical guide on how to make urban green space more accessible to adolescents to support health and wellbeing.
  6. Nature on prescription Handbook – evidence and suggestions on how Nature on Prescription can support people’s mental health and how to deliver a high-quality scheme.
  7. Evaluating interventions in green space: Derriford Community Park – an evidence-based resource using causal loop diagrams to show links between greenspace interventions and health benefits, highlighting key factors for success and relevant evaluation measures.
  8. Understanding environmental investment for health in the southwest – exploring dynamic mapping case studies – looking at three cross-sectoral health focused projects in the South West, this resource explores stakeholder’s connections, revealing opportunities and challenges.
  9. A Five Capitals Model approach – building a business case for investment in nature for health – demonstrating how the Five Capitals Model approach, backed by relevant evidence, can provide a convincing and credible framework for strengthening such a business case, placing Natural Capital at the centre of interest.
  10. Supporting case studies for the ‘A Five Models approach’ resource
  11. Economic and Non-Economic Measures and Tools – Evaluating the health and wellbeing benefits of nature based health interventions – presenting and analysing case studies, and drawing on the latest evidence, to provide details about some of the most commonly used economic and non-economic measures and tools for measuring, and quantifying, the success of investments in the environment for health.
  12. Supporting case studies for the ‘Economic and Non-Economic Measures and Tools’ resource.

This is what our partners say:

  • Luke Pollard, former Shadow Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs. ‘SWEEP has provided valuable evidence-based work that plays an important part in helping to drive the agenda for a ‘right’ to nature – where we are investing in enhancing our natural resources to create spaces that make us happy, and save money on health treatments’.
  • Rich Sharpe, Public Health Specialist and Lead Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, Cornwall Council. ‘SWEEP’s evidenced based resources have informed and strengthened the drafting of Cornwall City Council’s five year social prescribing strategy. This five capitals model approach resource has enabled me to illustrate how different elements of my work, that deliver health and wellbeing objectives, link together’.
  • Maria Clarke, Dorset Local Nature Partnership Manager. ‘The SWEEP resources provide credibility to what we do. It’s about having that arsenal of evidence behind me that allows me to be more confident in discussions with partners to ensure engagement, and I’m also using it to feed into future work and bids’.
  • Jonathan Reeves, Principal Research Officer for Health & Wellbeing Wildfowl and Wetland Trust. ‘Working with SWEEP has built our confidence and extended our understanding about how academic evidence can help us do our job better. It has allowed us at WWT to think about, and act on, how we best deliver health benefits from our wetland nature-based interventions and communicate more clearly and credibly about the value of this to society’.
  • Rupert Lloyd, Healthy Places Project Coordinator, Public Health Dorset. ‘SWEEP resources and events are the tangible outcomes of the project but these have enabled the less tangible, but arguably more important, impact of promoting and supporting cross-sectoral working between environment and health sector’.
  • James Sharpe, Strategic Planning and Projects Manager, Dartmoor National Park Authority. ‘The SWEEP health and wellbeing evidence was enlightening and definitely strengthened our successful Green Recovery Challenge Fund bid. It is helping to strengthen the quality of evidence around need, proposed approaches and delivery of our work in this area’.
  • Matt O’Connell, owner of Sylvawood Seeds. ‘SWEEP has opened up a whole new arena for me. The reputation and growth of my business has benefitted from the scientific evidence SWEEP has provided. Without this, I wouldn’t now be communicating so confidently about how my seed mixes help to boost biodiversity and deliver health and wellbeing benefits or have started thinking more strategically about new product ideas such as sensory grasses. SWEEP’s input has been a key factor in helping me secure funding and secure new business deals’.
  • Jemma Sharman, Green Minds Programme Manager. ‘The SWEEP webinar series and wider resources are incredibly valuable – they offer user friendly, evidence-based resources that help sift through the myriad of often confusing information currently available, providing clear examples of where, and how, science has been applied and lessons learnt. We are drawing on them to enhance the delivery of our own programmes’.
  • Jerry Griffiths, Project Manager at Derriford Community Park ‘As manager of a strategic, new city greenspace we’re committed to maximising the health and wellbeing outcomes for our local communities. This approach (introduced by SWEEP) is already helping us identify and focus our resources on key intermediate health and wellbeing outcomes; and to ensure we have the most effective tools to capture our impact.’

In addition to this the SWEEP team has delivered impressive impact in relation to the following outputs;

  • Accelerating and enhancing delivery of health and wellbeing projects and business cases, across 8 key partner organisations (and their partners), contributing to £2.43m leveraged funding, an increase of 38% revenue for a local business, and 5 jobs secured or created. See our two case studies.
  • Contributing to natural capital enhancement and the delivery of more equitable access to nature-based health benefits, across more diverse groups of society, over an estimated area of 1403m2 of the South West. E.g. supporting the creation of a 15 acre wildflower meadow at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, estimated to be able to deliver between £42.5k – £52.5k worth of health and wellbeing returns.
  • Informing organisational strategies and government policies – e.g. Cornwall Council’s 5-year (2023-2028) social prescribing strategy, the Wildfowl and Wetland Trust’s input to the new 6,140 hectare ‘super’ National Nature Reserve and Environmental Land Management Schemes.

12 Health Resources
Published: July 2022
Edwards-Jones, A.
Abrahams, R.
Wheeler, B.
SWEEP, University of Exeter
 These SWEEP resources are produced as part of the Investing in Nature for Health project.
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