Public health

Olympic Park. © Peter Neal

We believe those involved in creating healthy places should champion the role landscape plays in improving health outcomes. We want public health professionals, planners and landscape architects to promote and act upon the idea that high quality landscape increase wellbeing.

What do we mean by health and healthy landscapes?

‘Health’ describes a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and ‘public health’ is concerned with the health and wellbeing of whole populations.

The definition of landscape in the European Landscape Convention (ELC) is a valuable and inclusive definition. The ELC definition covers outside spaces everywhere, at every scale and covers both built and natural environments. This means landscapes include countryside, green infrastructure and open spaces, plus urban spaces, civic squares, public realm and more.

What is a healthy landscape?

The term ‘healthy landscapes’ describes places designed to promote good health and wellbeing.

We believe that the use of landscape improves people’s physical and mental health. We promote the important role that well-planned and designed landscapes play in improving public health – and why more investment is needed in this area to prevent ill health before it has the chance to occur. This approach would reduce pressure on the public purse.

Why public health and landscape is important

In our position statement ‘Public Health and Landscape: creating healthy places’ (PDF, 0.05MB), we set out five principles we believe create healthy places. These are:

  1. Healthy places improve air, water and soil quality, incorporating measures that help us to either adapt to climate change or mitigate its impact on us.
  2. Healthy places help overcome health inequalities and promote healthy lifestyles.
  3. Healthy places relax people, increase social interaction – and reduce anti-social behaviour, isolation and stress.
  4. Healthy places optimise opportunities for working, learning and development.
  5. Healthy places are restorative, uplifting and healing for both physical and mental health conditions.

‘Public health and landscape’ also features some 22 projects that show how these principles can be applied.

Dalston Eastern Curve Garden: a landscape that relaxes people

Created on an old disused railway line, this city space exemplifies the LI’s principle 3: a healthy place to relax and interact with others.

In this video, Johanna Gibbons FLI, of J & L Gibbons, who designed the gardens, talks about a growing need for cities with diverse populations to offer communities fundamental contact with nature.