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 one. The ELC definition covers outside spaces everywhere, at every scale, both built and natural. Landscapes include countryside, green infrastructure and open spaces, protected landscapes, 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.

Landscape demonstrably 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 local and national governments must invest more in green infrastructure as preventative healthcare, reducing pressure on the healthcare system.

Why public health and landscape is important

Public Health and Landscape: Creating healthy places

In our position statement ‘Public Health and Landscape: creating healthy places’ (PDF, 0.05MB), we set out the following five principles for healthy places:

  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 22 projects that show how these principles can be applied.

Creating healthy places: Dalston Eastern Curve Garden

The LI’s third healthy places principle – relaxation and social interaction – is exemplified through the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden project. This project transformed a disused railway line into a much-needed public green space in one of the most built-up areas of London, providing a huge range of benefits to the local community, including physical and mental health benefits.

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.