GREENER CITIES HEALTHIER LIVES

Project synopsis:

This project attempts to advance policy-relevant knowledge on the relationships between green space and health. There are five themes, each focusing on a different stage of the lifecourse. These five themes cover all age groups to help us build an understanding of what the minimum threshold of local green space might be in order to elicit favourable outcomes:

  1. pregnancy and perinatal health;

  2. mental health and chronic disease risk;

  3. health service use and healthcare costs;

  4. child health and educational attainment;

  5. green space preferences and outdoor recreation among older people.


Project Team

Investigators

· Professor Thomas Astell-Burt, University of Wollongong

· A/Prof Xiaoqi Feng, University of New South Wales

· Prof. Glenn Salkeld

· Prof. Leonard Arnolda

· Prof. Tony Okely

· Prof. Alison Jones

· Prof. David Steel

· Prof. Simon Eckermann

· Prof. Bin Jalaludin

· A/Prof. Ping Yu

· Dr. Dylan Cliff

· Dr. Stewart Vella

· Dr. Chris Brennan-Horley

Staff:

· Dr Michael Navakatikyan

· Tamara Raso

· Philip Kosiak

· Ramya Walsan

PhD Students:

· Selin Akaraci

· Shumirai Mushangwe

· Eme John

· Edi Putra

Acknowledgement of funding:

This project has been funded by Hort Innovation, using the Hort Innovation Green Cities research and development levy, co-investment from University of Wollongong and contributions from the Australian Government. Hort Innovation is the grower-owned, not-for-profit research and development corporation for Australian horticulture.


Impacts and outputs:

Our project findings have informed advocacy for, and implementation of, NSW Premier’s Priorities announced in 2019 to plant 1 million trees in Sydney and to increase access to quality green space by 10%. Our findings have also informed and been cited in urban greening policy documents, such as the City of Sydney’s $377M ‘Greening Sydney’ strategy and Wollongong City Council’s Urban Greening Strategy 2017-2037.
Read these strategies here

The continuing lockdowns and surge in public interest in green space have provided new and unique opportunities for doing new high impact research. This has involved adapting our data collection online, to examine how green space use and its health benefits evolved within the context of the COVID-19 pandemic across Australia.


Key findings to date include:

· Restoring tree canopy cover from <10% to at least 30% is associated with reduced risks (or odds) of developing dementia, diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular diseases, psychological distress, insufficient sleep, and poor health in general among Australian adults living in cities.

· Adults in neighbourhoods where at least 30% of nearby land was parks, reserves, or woodlands, had 26% lower odds of becoming lonely compared to their peers in areas with less than 10% green space. For people living on their own, the associations were even stronger, with areas that have 30% or more green space nearby halving the odds of adults developing loneliness.

· People who were able to work from home regularly during COVID-19 lockdowns accrued greater benefits from contact with green spaces, especially in terms of respite and exercise.

· Rather than being disadvantaged by the experience of ‘lockdown’ with respect to visiting natural settings, residents of Melbourne tended to visit green spaces more frequently and reap greater benefits from those visits in Oct 2020, compared with people in Sydney who weren’t in lockdown.

· Higher levels of green space are associated with healthier birthweight.

· Higher quality green space is associated with better health, fewer depressive symptoms, and more prosocial behaviour in children as they grow up.

· More green space is associated with better child health in general, regardless of whether the children are growing up in affluent or disadvantaged suburbs.

· Higher quality green space is associated with lower odds of post-partum psychological distress in young mothers, whereas more green space overall is associated with healthier body mass index.

· Socioeconomically disadvantaged communities tend to have less green space overall, less tree canopy, and where there is green space, it tends to be perceived as lower in quality.

· Australians born overseas tend to live in areas with less green space in general and less tree canopy in particular.


Publications:

    1. Astell-Burt T. Hartig T, Eckermann S, Nieuwenhuijsen M, McMunn A, Frumkin H, Feng X. 2021. More green, less lonely? A longitudinal cohort study. International Journal of Epidemiology. Accepted for publication: 31/05/2021


    1. Putra E, Astell-Burt T, Cliff D, Vella S, Feng X. 2021. Do physical activity, social interaction, and mental health mediate the association between green space quality and child prosocial behaviour? Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. 127264 


    1. Mushangwe S, Astell-Burt T. Steel D, Feng X. Ethnic inequalities in green space availability: Evidence from Australia. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. 127235


    1. Akaraci S, Feng X, Suesse T, Jalaludin B, Astell Burt T. 2021. Associations between green space, air pollution and birthweight in Sydney Metropolitan Area, Australia. Environmental Health Perspectives. (Vol. 2021, No. 1).


    1. Feng X, & Astell Burt T. 2021. Time for ‘Green’ during COVID-19? A nationally-representative study of nature, connectedness and coping in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic. Environmental Health Perspectives. (Vol. 2021, No. 1).


    1. Astell-Burt T, Hartig T, Eckermann S, Nieuwenhuijsen M, McMunn A, Frumkin H, Feng X. 2021. More green, less lonely? A longitudinal cohort study. Environmental Health Perspectives. (Vol. 2021, No. 1).


    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2021. People’s odds of loneliness could fall by up to half if cities hit 30% green space targets. The Conversation. June 10. https://theconversation.com/peoples-odds-of-loneliness-could-fall-by-up-to-half-if-cities-hit-30-green-space-targets-161989

    1. Astell-Burt T, Navakatikyan MA, Walsan R, Davis W, Figtree G, Arnolda L, Feng X. 2021. Green space and cardiovascular health in people with type 2 diabetes. Health and Place. 69: 102554


    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2021. Time for ‘Green’ during COVID-19? Inequities in Green and Blue Space Access, Visitation and Felt Benefits. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 18(5): 18052757


    1. Putra E, Astell-Burt T, Cliff D, Vella S, Feng X. 2021. Association between caregiver perceived green space quality and the development of prosocial behaviour from childhood to adolescence: Latent class trajectory and multilevel longitudinal analyses of Australian children over 10 years. Journal of Environmental Psychology. 74: 101579


    1. Akaraci S, Feng X, Suesse T, Jalaludin B, Astell-Burt T. Greener neighbourhoods, healthier birth outcomes? Evidence from Australia. Environmental Pollution. 278: 116814


    1. Putra E, Astell-Burt T, Cliff D, Vella S, Feng X. 2021. Association between green space quality and prosocial behaviour: A 10-year multilevel longitudinal analysis of Australian children. Environmental Research. 110334


    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2020. Urban green space, tree canopy and 11-year risk of dementia in a cohort of 109,688 Australians  . Environment International, 145: 106102.


    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2020. Greener neighbourhoods, better memory? A longitudinal study. Health & Place, 65, 102393.

    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2020. Urban green space, tree canopy and prevention of cardiometabolic diseases: a multilevel longitudinal study of 46,786 Australians. International Journal of Epidemiology. 49(3): 926-933

    1. Shuvo F, Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2020. Urban green space quality and older adult recreation: an international comparison. Cities and Health. 1-21.

    1. Akaraci S, Feng X, Suesse T, Jalaludin B, Astell-Burt T. 2020. How much and what type of green and blue space promote healthier pregnancy outcomes? A systematic review and meta-analysis. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 17(8): 17082949.

    1. Shuvo F, Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2020. Urban green space and health in low and middle-income countries: a critical review. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening. 126662.


    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2020. Does sleep grow on trees? A longitudinal study to investigate potential prevention of insufficient sleep with different types of urban green space. SSM Population Health. 10: 100497

    1. Putra I, Astell-Burt T, Cliff D, Vella S, John EE, Feng X. 2020. The relationship between green space and prosocial behaviour among children and adolescents: a systematic review. Frontiers in Psychology. 11: 859

    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2020. More green, more ‘zzzzz’? Trees may help us sleep. The Conversation. March 16. https://theconversation.com/more-green-more-zzzzz-trees-may-help-us-sleep-132354

    1. Kumar P, Druckman A, Gallagher J, Gatersleben B, Allison S, Eisenman TS, Hoang U, Hama S, Tiwari A, Sharma A, Abhijith KV, Adlakha D, McNabola A, Astell-Burt T, Feng X, Skeldon AC, de Lusignan S, Morawska L. 2019. The nexus between air pollution, green infrastructure and human health. Environment International. 133: 105181

    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2019. Urban green space, tree canopy, and prevention of heart disease, hypertension, and diabetes: a longitudinal study. The Lancet Planetary Health. 3: S16

    2. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2019. Association of urban green space with mental health and general health among adults in Australia. JAMA Network Open. 2(7): e198209

    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2019. Increasing tree cover may be like a ‘superfood’ for community mental health. The Conversation. July 27. https://theconversation.com/increasing-tree-cover-may-be-like-a-superfood-for-community-mental-health-119930

    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2019. People living in rural areas may be at lower risk of Alzheimer’s disease. The Conversation. June 26. https://theconversation.com/people-living-in-rural-areas-may-be-at-lower-risk-of-alzheimers-disease-112417

    1. Shanahan D, Astell-Burt T, Barber EA, Brymer E, Cox DTC, Dean J, Depledge M, Fuller RA, Hartig T, Irvine KN, Jones A, Kikilus H, Lovell R, Mitchell R, Niemela J, Nieuwenhuisen M, Pretty J, Townsend M, van Heezik Y, Warber S, Gaston KJ. 2019. Nature-based interventions for improving health and wellbeing: the purpose, the people and the outcomes. Sports. 7: 141

    1. Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2019. Can green space quantity and quality help prevent postpartum weight gain? A longitudinal study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 73: 295-302

    1. Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2018. Residential green space quantity and quality and symptoms of psychological distress: a 15-year longitudinal study of 3897 women in postpartum. BMC Psychiatry. 18: 348

    1. Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2018. Green space, mental health, physical activity and body mass index in a cohort of women up to 15 years postpartum: a multilevel longitudinal study. Environmental Health Perspectives (International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Conference Abstracts). August 30


    1. Markevych I, Schoierer J, Hartig T, Chudnovsky A, de Vries S, Triguero-Mas M, Brauer M, Dzhambov A, Dadvand P, Nieuwenhuijsen MJ, Lupp G, Richardson EA, Astell-Burt T, Hystad P, Dimitrova D, Feng X, Sadeh M, Standl M, Heinrich J, Fuertes E. 2017. Exploring pathways linking greenspace to health: Theoretical and methodological guidance. Environment Research. 158: 301-317

    1. Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2017. Residential green space quantity and quality and child wellbeing: a longitudinal study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 53(5) 616-624

    1. Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2017. Do greener areas promote more equitable child health? Health and Place. 46, 267-273

    1. Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2017. Is Neighborhood Green Space Protective Against Associations Between Child Asthma, Neighborhood Traffic Volume and Area Safety? Multilevel Analysis of 4,447 Australian Children. Journal of Transport & Health: International Conference on Transport and Health. Volume 5, S40-S41


    1. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2017. Does the Potential Benefit of Neighbourhood Green Space for Body Mass Index Depend upon Socioeconomic Circumstances and Local Built and Transport Environments? A Test of the ‘Equigenesis’ Hypothesis in Australia. Journal of Transport & Health: International Conference on Transport and Health. 5, S40-S41

    2. Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2017. Is neighborhood green space protective against associations between child asthma, neighborhood traffic volume and area safety? Multilevel analysis of 4,447 Australian children. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14: 543. Impact Factor: 2.035. Altmetric score: 4. Google Scholar Citations: 8.

    3. Feng X, Astell-Burt T, Feng Z. 2017. Perceived Public Transport Infrastructure Modifies the Association Between Public Transport Use and Mental Health: Multilevel Analyses from the United Kingdom. Journal of Transport & Health: International Conference on Transport and Health. 5, S40-S41

    4. Feng X, Astell-Burt T. 2017. The relationship between neighbourhood green space and child mental wellbeing depends upon who you ask: Multilevel evidence from 3,083 children aged 12-13 years. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 14(3), 235


Presentations

  1. Astell-Burt, Feng et al. 2021. More green, less lonely? A longitudinal cohort study. International Society of Environmental Epidemiology. New York, US.

  2. Feng and Astell-Burt. 2021. Time for ‘Green’ during COVID-19? A nationally-representative study of nature, connectedness and coping in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic? International Society of Environmental Epidemiology. New York, US.

  3. Feng and Astell-Burt. 2021. Time for ‘Green’ during COVID-19? A nationally-representative study of nature, connectedness and coping in Australia during the COVID-19 pandemic? International Society of Environmental Epidemiology. New York, US.

  4. Akaraci S, Feng X, Suesse T, Jalaludin B, Astell Burt T. 2021. Associations between green space, air pollution and birthweight in Sydney. International Society of Environmental Epidemiology. New York, US.

  5. Astell-Burt T. 2021. Contingencies and complexities contextualising associations between green space and health. Invited by Professor Jongsang Sung to present at the 40th Anniversary Symposium of the Environmental Planning Institute (EPI), Seoul National University (SNU), Korea.

  6. Astell-Burt T. 2020. On the health benefits of urban greening. Invited by Healthy Cities Illawarra to present at the Healthy Cities Online Forum.

  7. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2020. Reaping the benefits of green space. KEYNOTE for the TREENET Virtual Forestry Festival – 21st Annual Street Tree Symposium, Adelaide, South Australia.

  8. Astell-Burt T. 2020. Potential contributions of NSW Government Urban Greening Premier’s Priorities to CVD prevention. Invited by the Northern Sydney Local Health District to present at the Grand Rounds in Cardiology, Royal North Shore Hospital, St Leonards - Sydney NSW

  9. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2020. Evidence on the health benefits of urban greening – a discussion with Tim Williams, Australasian Cities Leader, ARUP.

  10. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. March 12th 2020. Quality green space and health and wellbeing. Invited by the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (NSW DPIE) to present at the Local Government Landscape Design Forum, Australian Botanic Gardens, Mount Annan - Sydney NSW

  11. Astell-Burt T. February 21st 2020. Parklife: Reflecting on the evidence linking green space quality and type with health and wellbeing. Invited by Institute of Australian Consulting Arboriculturalists (IACA) to present at the Trees For Liveable Cities-Delivering Effective Green Infrastructure Conference, Tramsheds, Forest Lodge - Sydney NSW https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcX6snG00Mk&feature=youtu.be

  12. Astell-Burt T. 2019. Association between green space and mental health. 202020 Vision Growing Together Tour. Sydney.

  13. Astell-Burt T, Feng X. 2019. Green space and diabetes prevention? Western Sydney Diabetes: ‘Seeing the Forest and the Trees Conference’. Baulkham Hills.

  14. Astell-Burt T and Feng X. 2018. Greener cities, healthier lives. International Association of Horticultural Producers: International Green Cities Conference. Melbourne

  15. Feng X and Astell-Burt T. 2018. Greener cities, healthier lives. Institute for Social and Economic Research (ISER), University of Essex. Colchester.

  16. Astell-Burt T and Feng X. 2018. Why Big Data and Big Partnerships are needed to tackle Big Problems. School of Public Health, Peking Union Medical College and The Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences. Beijing.

  17. Astell-Burt T and Feng X. 2018. Why Big Data and Big Partnerships are needed to tackle Big Problems. National Institute for Environmental Health (NIEH), Chinese Center for Disease Control. Beijing.

  18. Astell-Burt T and Feng X. 2018. Greener cities, healthier lives. University Global Partnership Network (UGPN) Annual Conference, University of Surrey. Surrey.

  19. Feng X and Astell-Burt T. 2018. Greener cities, healthier lives. NGIA Strategic Investment Advisory Panel. Gold Coast.

  20. Feng X. 2018. Green space, mental health, physical activity and body mass index in a cohort of women up to 15 years postpartum: a multilevel longitudinal study. International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Annual Conference: Ottawa.

  21. Astell-Burt T. 2018. Geographic variation and contributions of rurality and area-level socioeconomic circumstances to incidence of Alzheimer’s disease over 11 years: Multilevel discrete-time event history analysis of a cohort of 261,669 Australians aged 45 years and older. International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Annual Conference: Ottawa.

  22. Feng X. 2018. Is green space quantity or quality better for me? International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Asia Chapter. Taipei.


  1. Astell-Burt T. 2018. Is the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease higher in rural areas? Multilevel discrete-time event history analysis of a cohort of 261,669 Australians aged 45 years and older tracked over 11 years. International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Asia Chapter. Taipei.


  1. Astell-Burt T and Feng X. 2018. Greener cities, healthier lives. UCL Research Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. London.


  1. Feng X and Astell-Burt T. 2018. Green space, maternal health and healthy ageing. ESRC International Centre for Lifecourse Studies. London.


  1. Astell-Burt T. 2018. More neighbourhood green space may protect child respiratory health from heavy traffic volume. A multilevel study of 4,447 children in Australia. International Network on Children’s Health, Environment and Safety (INCHES) Conference. Seoul.

  2. Feng X. 2018. Is green space quantity or quality better for me? International Network on Children’s Health, Environment and Safety (INCHES) Conference. Seoul.

  3. Feng X. 2018. Greener cities, healthier start. Australian Health Promotion Association Annual Conference. Canberra.

  4. Feng X. 2018. The role of multi-sectorial partnerships in urban liveability. Australian Health Promotion Association Annual Conference. Canberra.

  5. Feng X and Astell-Burt T. 2018. Greener cities, healthier lives. RMIT. Melbourne.

  6. Kambisios E. 2018. Investigating socioeconomic inequalities in mental health: does social capital increase health parity? A longitudinal study. University of Wollongong, School of Health and Society Honours thesis presentation day.

  7. Marchesi A. 2018. What features of green space can we improve to create environments which benefit both young boys and girls physical activity equally? University of Wollongong, School of Health and Society Honours thesis presentation day.

  8. Stergiou K. 2018. Does more urban green space reduce air pollution exposure and what is the combined effect for park use? University of Wollongong, School of Health and Society Honours thesis presentation day.

  9. Astell-Burt T. 2017. Does the potential benefit of neighbourhood green space for body mass index depend upon socioeconomic circumstances and local built and transport environments. A test of the ‘equigenesis’ hypothesis in Australia. International Conference of Transport and Health. Barcelona.

  10. Feng X. 2017. Is neighbourhood green space protective against associations between child asthma, neighbourhood traffic volume and a lack of perceived area safety? Multilevel analyses of 4,447 Australian children. International Conference of Transport and Health. Barcelona.

  11. Astell-Burt T. 2017. What amount of green for healthier ageing? World EcoCity Summit. Melbourne.

  12. Feng X. 2017. Greener neighbourhood, healthier start? World EcoCity Summit. Melbourne.

  13. Feng X and Astell-Burt T. 2017. Greener cities, healthier lives. International Centre for Global Health (IS-Global). Barcelona.

  14. Astell-Burt T. 2017. Neighbourhood green space quantity, quality and ‘equigenesis’ of body mass index: evidence from a cohort of Australian mothers. International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Annual Conference. Sydney.

  15. Astell-Burt T. 2017. Measuring policy-relevant (or amenable) exposures for a more consequentialist environmental epidemiology: a critique and some potential avenues for future studies of green space and health. International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Annual Conference. Sydney.

  16. Feng X. 2017. Residential green space quantity and quality and child mental wellbeing: a longitudinal study. International Society for Environmental Epidemiology Annual Conference. Sydney.

  17. Astell-Burt T. 2017. Greener neighbourhoods, healthier lives. National Urban Greening Research Conference. Sydney.

  18. Astell-Burt T. 2017. Does neighbourhood green space promote narrower socioeconomic inequity in body mass index among women? Evidence from Australia. World Congress of Epidemiology. Tokyo.

  19. Astell-Burt T. 2017. Is neighbourhood green space protective against associations between child asthma, neighbourhood traffic volume and a lack of perceived area safety? Multilevel analyses of 4,447 Australian children. World Congress of Epidemiology. Tokyo.

  20. Astell-Burt T. 2017. Keeping healthy and out of hospital: The evidence for investing in green space. ABARES Outlook. Canberra.

  21. Feng X and Astell-Burt T. 2017. Greener cities healthier lives. NGIA Strategic Investment Advisory Panel. Sydney.

  22. Astell-Burt T. Presentation of the Greener Cities Healthier Lives project at the inaugural National Urban Greening Research Forum held at the University of Wollongong Sydney Business School (co-organised between PowerLab and Hort Innovation Ltd)

  23. Feng X and Astell-Burt T. 2016. Greener cities, healthier lives. Hort Innovation Ltd Green Cities Expert Advisory Panel Meeting. Sydney.

  24. Astell-Burt T. 2016. Keeping healthy and out of hospital: The evidence for investing in green space. Hort Innovation Ltd Annual General Meeting. Sydney.

  25. Astell-Burt T and Feng X. 2016. Urban greening for healthier ageing: Gaps in knowledge and how we can plug them together. 17th National Street Tree Symposium (TREENET). Adelaide.

  26. Feng X and Astell-Burt T. 2016. Greener cities, healthier lives. North Carolina State University. Raleigh.

  27. Astell-Burt T and Feng X. 2016. Uncertainties and opportunities in greenness and green space exposure assessments. Ludwig Maximillian Universitat Munchen. Munich.