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The University of Exeter and Public Health Dorset have formed a new environmental research partnership

Dorset to benefit from green spaces and health research

A new partnership will further research into the health benefits of the natural environment in Dorset’s communities.

With joint interests in environmental and public health, the University of Exeter Medical School and Public Health Dorset have signed an agreement that will encourage closer research collaboration between the two organisations.

The work will see researchers from the University of Exeter Medical School focus on the relationship between green spaces and human health. It will aim to find evidence-based ways in which the natural environment can be used to promote and maintain health in Dorset’s local communities.

The new Memorandum of Understanding will include a joint research project on the residential accessibility of green spaces such as parks, woodlands and gardens in Bournemouth, Dorset and Poole. Research consistently shows that access to quality green space benefits health, wellbeing and physical activity.

Researchers will aim to identify communities where people have less access to green spaces, and as a result, less access to spaces for physical activity, rest and relaxation – factors that are consistently associated with a healthy lifestyle.

Dr Becca Lovell, Research Fellow at the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “Our partnership with Public Health Dorset provides an excellent opportunity to explore how evidence of the benefits of natural environments can be used to help improve people’s lives in the South West.”

The partnership will also facilitate a range of other collaborative activities including shared studentships and learning opportunities that will benefit students and staff at both organisations.

Rachel Partridge, Assistant Director of Public Health Dorset, said: “Public Health Dorset is delighted to be working with the University of Exeter. Many people already benefit from spending time in the Dorset’s outstanding natural environment and we look forward to working with experts from the University of Exeter Medical School to enable more people to enjoy the benefits this brings for health and wellbeing.”

The partnership will be led by Dr Becca Lovell and Dr Ben Wheeler of the European Centre for Environment and Human Health, part of the University of Exeter Medical School, and will support the wider Dorset Sustainability and Transformation Plan. This aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Dorset’s population, and reduce the pressure placed on its health and care services.

Based at the University of Exeter’s Truro Campus in Cornwall, the European Centre for Environment and Human Health conducts world class research into the complex connections between the environment and health. Their aim is to produce research that will contribute to the economy of the South West and impact policy at a national and international level.

Date: 22 January 2018

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