Research challenges for cultural ecosystem services and public health in (peri-)urban environments

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  • Xianwen Chen, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
  • ,
  • Sjerp de Vries, Wageningen University and Research Centre
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  • Timo Assmuth, Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE)
  • ,
  • Jan Dick, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
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  • Tia Hermans, Wageningen University and Research Centre
  • ,
  • Ole Hertel
  • Anne Jensen
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  • Laurence Jones, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology
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  • Sigrun Kabisch, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH
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  • Timo Lanki, The National Institute for Health and Welfare, University of Eastern Finland
  • ,
  • Irina Lehmann, Charite - Universitatsmedizin Berlin
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  • Lindsay Maskell, University Lancaster
  • ,
  • Lisa Norton, University Lancaster
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  • Stefan Reis, Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, University of Exeter Medical School

Urbanization is a global trend, and consequently the quality of urban environments is increasingly important for human health and wellbeing. Urban life-style is typically associated with low physical activity and sometimes with high mental stress, both contributing to an increasing burden of diseases. Nature-based solutions that make effective use of ecosystem services, particularly of cultural ecosystem services (CES), can provide vital building blocks to address these challenges. This paper argues that, the salutogenic, i.e. health-promoting effects of CES have so far not been adequately recognised and deserve more explicit attention in order to enhance decision making around health and wellbeing in urban areas. However, a number of research challenges will need to be addressed to reveal the mechanisms, which underpin delivery of urban CES. These include: causal chains of supply and demand, equity, and equality of public health benefits promoted. Methodological challenges in quantifying these are discussed. The paper is highly relevant for policy makers within and beyond Europe, and also serves as a review for current researchers and as a roadmap to future short- and long-term research opportunities.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Pages (from-to)2118-2129
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2019

    Research areas

  • Cultural ecosystem services, Nature-based solutions, Public health, Urban green/blue infrastructure

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