The benefits Sheffield residents get from city parks is to be the focus of a £1.3 million research project to improve green spaces nationally.
The Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature project will study how city residents use parks, as well as how the quality and quantity of available green space impacts on their health.
Led by the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape, the project will bring academics from four universities together with the wildlife trusts, recovery enterprises and the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare.
The Natural Environment Research Council awarded £1.3m to fund the project.
Project lead Dr Anna Jorgensen, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Landscape, said: “This project will develop a more nuanced understanding of the distribution of urban natural environments and health inequalities. We aim to understand the cultures and values that influence how people of different ages and backgrounds interact with the natural environment as well as find out more about which aspects of the natural environment are beneficial for health and wellbeing.
“The aim is to improve the health and wellbeing of city residents through well designed green spaces.”
Although it is already well known that spending time in natural spaces is good for people, the project will investigate which particular features of green space – their design, location, biodiversity or other features – boost people’s health and personal enjoyment.
The researchers plan to develop a smartphone app to record how people interact with green spaces and how this is influenced by culture, age, as well as social and economic circumstances.
The three year project will start on June 1.