Better Parks, Healthier For All?

Project synopsis:

This research project investigating how green spaces can reduce inequalities in mental health and cardiometabolic disease prevention has received $1.45 million in funding from the United Kingdom Research and Innovation (UKRI) and National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC). The funding was awarded in 2020. PowerLab Co-Director Associate Professor Xiaoqi Feng from UNSW Medicine and Professor Richard Mitchell from the Glasgow University (Glas) will jointly lead the project.

The project ‘Better Parks, Healthier for All?’ will harness scientific, clinical and industry expertise in epidemiology, environmental data science, health policy and urban greening to provide evidence on health-promoting qualities of urban green space.

Increasing evidence affirms that green spaces can make an important contribution to preventing poor mental health and cardiometabolic diseases. The NSW, Scottish and other governments are drawing upon this evidence for major investments in ‘quality’ green space provision. However, little research has been done on which green space qualities maximise impacts on levels of, and socioeconomic inequalities in, mental ill-health and cardiometabolic diseases.

Our aims are to (1) co-produce evidence about which qualities of green space contribute most to the prevention of poor mental health and cardiometabolic disease; (2) co-design policy and urban planning options with our Impact Advisory Group informed by the new evidence from our analyses to translate and implement our findings at scale in cities across Australia and the UK; and thereby (3) maximise the contribution of urban green spaces to preventing and equalising these noncommunicable diseases (NCD).

Results will be shared with planners and policymakers to maximise health gains from green spaces in cities across Australia and the United Kingdom.

The project brings together senior and emerging researchers from UNSW, Glas, the University of Wollongong, CSIRO, the University of Queensland, and local health districts in Western Sydney and South Western Sydney.

Project Team

Chief Investigator(s):

Associate Investigator(s):

Participating Institutions:

  • Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation. Department: CSIRO Land and Water

  • MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit, Glasgow. Department: Neighbourhoods and Communities Programme

  • The University of Queensland. Department: School of Biological Sciences

  • University of New South Wales. Department: School of Public Health and Community Medicine

  • University of Wollongong. Department: Population Wellbeing and Environment Research Lab (PowerLab)

  • Western Sydney Local Health District. Department: Western Sydney Diabetes

Acknowledgement of funding:

The UKRI-NHMRC Built Environment and Prevention Research Scheme supports Australian participation in world-leading research to reduce non-communicable diseases (NCDs) associated with the built environment.