Investing in Nature for Health

Working with partners across the South West to inform and support activities that provide benefits to health and wellbeing and the environment
This project will address government’s need for greater understanding of how investing in the environment can benefit our health, and work specifically to promote good mental health in the region.

A rapidly growing and diverse range of policy and practice is premised on the beneficial impacts of natural environments for human health and wellbeing. However, there is still a need for greater understanding of how investing in the environment can benefit our health. This project is addressing knowledge gaps in this area, with a view to promoting natural capital – especially green and blue spaces – for social and economic benefits. We are working in partnership in SWEEP case study areas and across the region to inform and support stakeholders to implement and improve connections between environmental improvement/protection and population health.

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, we have adapted some of our activities. One strand of the project intended to work with young people in schools to discuss how the natural environment could best support their mental health. Whilst this is no longer possible, our work will still aim to support targeted investment in natural environments for young people and for mental health. The pandemic and resulting lockdown have highlighted the importance of natural spaces for both physical and mental health; our priorities now are to support stakeholders in responding to challenges they may face in investing in nature for health in the future.

Our Partners

The project involves partners from within the core SWEEP region and also extends this further within the South West in order to develop wider opportunities and impact and to capitalise on regional excellence.

The programme of work

Working with key stakeholders in the environment and health sectors, we are developing a suite of linked activities over the two years of this project. We are considering a range of relevant environments and locations (marine/coastal, terrestrial, urban, rural) reflecting the breadth and diversity of opportunity in the region.

Take a look at the full programme of work by downloading the Project overview below.


Activity 1 - Actor and action mapping: Guidance production

A series of stakeholder workshops and online consultations are being used to:

  1. Identify key organisations and opportunities in the South West for health improvement through environmental investment.
  2. Build a cross-sectoral network of these stakeholders to share resources, practice and evidence of what works.
  3. Establish and share existing regional good practice and policy.
  4. Co-produce information resources for environment and health partners giving practical guidance on how and why investment in the environment can improve health.

An initial workshop, led by the project partners, established the network. We are continuing to facilitate the sharing of knowledge and resources through a webinar series and the Investing in nature for health hub which can be accessed at the top of this page.

Further consultation with stakeholders has refined the priorities and outcomes of the project as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. We are producing information resources on: mechanisms for funding green space; the management of individual green spaces in response to potential austerity measures; and safe visits to, and consultation on, green spaces by local people under different Covid-19 scenarios.

Activity 2 - Building a business case and guidance

It is clear that in order to justify investment in the environment to promote and improve health, a sound business case is required.

A number of studies have estimated the potential health and related economic impacts of natural environments and health interventions that make use of them. This activity is drawing on existing evidence to undertake a comprehensive review and build a business case suitable to underpin future investment. This business case will help to guide investment, and highlight opportunities.

Impact Case Studies

These two Impact Case Studies showcase the strength of two partnerships developed under this SWEEP project that have delivered outputs that meet partner needs, and delivered real-world impact for business, policy and practice concerned with environmental enhancement and nature-based health outcomes.

Click on the green buttons below to access the Impact Case Studies.

Project News

Project Code: 020
Project Lead:
Kate Hind
SWEEP Impact Fellow
Professor Melanie Austen
SWEEP Marine Co-Lead
Dr Sian de Bell
SWEEP Impact Fellow
Andrew Edwards-Jones
Dr Elizabeth Gabe-Thomas
Dr Rebecca Lovell
Dr Karyn Morrissey
Kim Nettleton-Croley
SWEEP Communications Officer
Ben Wheeler
Senior Research Fellow

Other Impact Projects

Whole Catchment Water Management – phase 2

Building evidence for a regional (whole catchment) based approach for water management

Biodiversity and Environmental Net Gain

Delivering Environmental Net Gain by addressing knowledge gaps, understanding social preferences and exploring delivery mechanisms

Quantitative Habitat Mapping

Developing and embedding novel remote-sensing methods for mapping of woodland, moorlands and key habitats in support of more profitable and sustainable landscape management

Policy for Pollinators

Building policy and legacy opportunities for pollinator management in the South West and beyond

Water Quality and Aquaculture

Water quality management underpinning sustainable aquaculture and its expansion in South West England

Sustainable Recreation Futures

Understanding the outdoor recreational benefits in Plymouth