, Volume 6, Issue 4, pp 553–556 | Cite as

Rediscovering Nature in Everyday Settings: Or How to Create Healthy Environments and Healthy People

  • Cecily J. Maller
  • Claire Henderson-Wilson
  • Mardie Townsend
Short Communication


It is estimated that half of the world’s population now live in urban environments. Urban living necessitates a removal from nature, yet evidence indicates that contact with nature is beneficial for human health. In fact, everyday urban places, such as where people live, study, and work, provide opportunities to bring nature back into cities to contribute to positive, healthy environments for people and to foster the human–nature connection. The inclusion of more nature in cities could have additional environmental benefits, such as habitat provision and improving the environmental performance of built environments. In the context of climate change, outcomes such as these assume further importance. This article explores how common urban places can foster links between people and nature, and generate positive health and well-being outcomes. We achieve this by exploring nature in the everyday settings of schools and residential housing.


urban environments nature health and well-being schools children high-rise developments 


  1. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2008) Australian Demographic Statistics, Catalogue No. 3101.0, Canberra, Australia: Australian Bureau of StatisticsGoogle Scholar
  2. Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) (2009) Regional Population Growth, Australia, 200607, Catalogue No. 3218, Canberra, Australia: Australian Bureau of StatisticsGoogle Scholar
  3. Capra F (1999) Ecoliteracy: The Challenge for Education in the Next Century, Berkeley, CA: Liverpool Schumacher Lectures Center for EcoliteracyGoogle Scholar
  4. Churchman A, Amir S, Frenkel A (1990) Culturally specific demand for open space in public housing neighborhoods in Israel. In: Culture-Space-History Conference, Proceedings of the 11th International Conference of the IAPS, vol 5, 8–12th July, Pamir H, Imamoglu V, Teymur N (editors), Ankara, Turkey: METU Faculty of Architecture and Sevki Vanli, Foundation for Architecture, pp 205–213Google Scholar
  5. Dyment J (2005) Gaining Ground: The Power and Potential of School Ground Greening in the Toronto District School Board, Toronto: Evergreen FoundationGoogle Scholar
  6. Evans GW, Wells NM, Moch A (2003) Housing and mental health: a review of the evidence and a methodological and conceptual critique. Journal of Social Issues 59:475–500CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Green V (2004) An Exploration of School Gardening and its Relationship to Holistic Education—A Major Paper Submitted in Partial Fulfillment of Requirements for the Degree of Master of Science. Master of Science Thesis, The University of Guelph, Guelph, CanadaGoogle Scholar
  8. Haines A, Smith KR, Anderson D, Epstein PR, McMichael AJ, Roberts I, et al. (2007) Policies for accelerating access to clean energy, improving health, advancing development, and mitigating climate change. Lancet 370:1264–1281CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Heerwagen JH, Orians GH (2002) The ecological world of children. In: Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations, Kahn PHJ, Kellert SR (editors), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp 29–63Google Scholar
  10. Henderson-Wilson C (2009) Inner city high-rise living: a catalyst for social exclusion and social connectedness? In: Theorising Social Exclusion, Taket A, Crisp BR, Nevill A, Lamaro G, Graham M, Barter-Godfrey S (editors), London: Routledge, pp 68–77Google Scholar
  11. Henderson-Wilson C, Townsend M (2007) How residential environments impact on health. Health Issues 93:25–29Google Scholar
  12. Kellert SR (2002) Experiencing nature: affective, cognitive, and evaluative development in children. In: Children and Nature: Psychological, Sociocultural, and Evolutionary Investigations, Kahn PHJ, Kellert SR (editors), Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, pp 117–151Google Scholar
  13. Kellert SR (2005) Building for LifeDesigning and Understanding the HumanNature Connection, Washington, DC: Island PressGoogle Scholar
  14. Kingsley J, Townsend M, Henderson-Wilson C (2009) Cultivating health and wellbeing: members’ perceptions of the health benefits of a Port Melbourne community garden. Leisure Studies 28:207–219CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Kuo FE (2001) Coping with poverty: impacts of environment and attention in the inner city. Environment & Behavior 33:5–34CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Kylin M (2003) Children’s dens. Children, Youth and Environments 13:1–26 [electronic version]Google Scholar
  17. Lawrence RJ (2006) Housing and health: beyond disciplinary confinement. Journal of Urban Health: Bulletin of the New York Academy of Medicine 83:540–549Google Scholar
  18. Louv R (2008) Last Child in the WoodsSaving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder, Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books of Chapel HillGoogle Scholar
  19. Low N, Gleeson B, Green R, Radovic D (2005) The Green City: Sustainable Homes, Sustainable Suburbs, Sydney, Australia: UNSW PressGoogle Scholar
  20. Maller CJ (2009) Promoting children’s mental, emotional and social health through contact with nature: a model. Health Education 109:522–543CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Maller CJ, Townsend M, Pryor A, Brown PB, St Leger L (2006) Healthy parks healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promotion International 21:45–54CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Neilsen TS, Hansen KB (2007) Do green areas affect health? Results from a Danish survey on the use of green areas and health indicators. Health and Place 13:839–850CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Palmer S (2006) Toxic Childhood, London: OrionGoogle Scholar
  24. Somerset S, Ball R, Flett M, Geissman R (2005) School-based community gardens: re-establishing healthy relationships with food. In: Proceedings of the National Biennial Conference of the Home Economics Institute of Australia: The Choice is Ours: Sustainable Futures and Home Economics, 12–15th January, Hobart, Tasmania: Home Economics Institute of Australia, pp 110–120Google Scholar
  25. Volk T, Cheak M (2003) The effects of an environmental education program on students, parents, and community. The Journal of Environmental Education 34:12–25CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Wilson EO (1993) Biophilia and the conservation ethic. In: The Biophilia Hypothesis, Kellert SR, Wilson EO (editors), Washington, DC: Shearwater Books/Island Press, pp 31–41Google Scholar
  27. Wood LJ, Giles-Corti B, Bulsara MK, Bosch D (2007) More than a furry companion: the ripple effect of companion animals on neighborhood interactions and sense of community. Society and Animals 15:43–56CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© International Association for Ecology and Health 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cecily J. Maller
    • 1
  • Claire Henderson-Wilson
    • 2
  • Mardie Townsend
    • 3
  1. 1.Global Cities Institute and Centre for Design, College of Design and Social ContextRMIT UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.School of Health and Social Development, Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural SciencesDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Faculty of Health, Medicine, Nursing and Behavioural SciencesDeakin UniversityMelbourneAustralia

Personalised recommendations