COLLEGE OF MEDICINE AND HEALTH
Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health Professions

Dr Ben Wheeler and Dr Sarah Bell on the Cornish coast.

New partnership will help manage Cornwall’s environment

An exciting new partnership in Cornwall is hoping to use academic research to inform the management of the county’s world-class natural habitats.

The University of Exeter has joined forces with Cornwall Council to create the initiative, which will explore how the latest findings in environment and health research can be used to protect and maximise the benefits of Cornwall’s outdoor spaces.

A growing body of research is showing that natural environments can be good for health and the University of Exeter boasts two of the UK’s leading centres in the field, located right here in Cornwall.

Specialists from both the European Centre for Environment and Human Health and the Environment and Sustainability Institute will be working with the Council, which is responsible for managing a large amount of open space across the county.

Dr Ben Wheeler, an expert in Health Geography, is leading the project and said “We want our research to inform effective decisions around preserving natural habitats and enhancing public spaces for the benefit of residents and visitors. This partnership will help us to figure out the best ways of working with governing bodies – so research can reliably shape policy at a regional and national level.”

The project is supported by Cornwall Council’s Environment Portfolio Holder, Councillor Edwina Hannaford, who said “We all know that spending time in the natural environment is good for our health, so I am really looking forward to seeing the outcome of this project, which is looking at what health, economic and social benefits can come from our Cornwall Council green spaces”.

The research builds on several exciting studies in Cornwall which are examining how green spaces in urban and rural environments might be used to improve people’s wellbeing. These include looking at the effects biodiversity can have on health, and whether ‘doses’ of nature can be prescribed to alleviate illness such as depression.

It has been funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, through their Impact Acceleration scheme.

Date: 7 August 2015

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