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Green Blue Infrastructure Impacts on Health and Wellbeing A Rapid Evidence Assessment

22 Apr 2024

This rapid evidence assessment assesses currentknowledge in the academic literature concerningthe impacts of Green Blue Infrastructure on people’shealth and wellbeing in the UK, and the implicationstherein for policy and practice and its use inParliamentary work. Health and wellbeing includephysical health, mental health, and wellbeingwhilst “Green Blue Infrastructure” is a strategicallyplanned multifunctional network of natural andsemi-natural areas and features designed andmanaged to deliver multiple benefits to people.Many green spaces have not been designed andmanaged to deliberately maximise multiple benefits,and so, strictly speaking, do not fit this definition.Nevertheless, they are likely to provide benefits toclimate, health, and biodiversity. This makes GreenBlue Infrastructure of cross-cutting interest forenvironmental, health and planning policy coveringmultiple government departments.

Key findings:

• More studies show the positive impacts of GreenBlue Infrastructure (GBI) on general wellbeing thanon specific physical and mental health conditions,particularly: -

• Most evidence exists to show improvedwellbeing from using and interacting with GBI,often through self-reported methods.

• Evidence shows that living near GBI canincrease rate of physical activity includingduring the COVID-19 pandemic.

• Some evidence shows that increased physicalactivity from GBI can reduce childhood obesityand slow health declines in the elderly.

• Evidence also shows improved cooling and airquality from urban GBI can reduce morbidity.

• Evidence supports GBI positively impactingmental health, but evidence only exists toshow this is from multiple direct pathways andthere is an evidence gap relating to indirectpathways. Of this evidence, social prescribingof GBI, notably in wetlands, shows positiveimpacts on anxiety and depression.

• Limited evidence shows GBI can reducepremature mortality, through increased exposureand use, and improved air quality.

• The positive impacts reported are the result ofdirect pathways (such as increased physicalactivity, increased exposure) and indirect pathways(such as improved air quality and reduced urbanheating)

• There is very little evidence that GBI negativelyimpacts health and wellbeing. Evidence that doesexist, shows that poor design and management ofGBI can increase the number of pest species. It canalso increase pollen exposure from urban trees.

• Areas with more GBI may reduce mentalhealth inequalities in socio-economic deprivedcommunities.

• Very few studies research direct and indirectpathways together with a cumulative impact deficit.

• Research attention to date has studied certain typeof GBI pathways and impacts more than others,meaning the evidence of health and wellbeingimpacts of GBI is not yet fully understood, hinderingits wider adoption in health and environmentalpractice.

• Rural and Peri-Urban GBI is the least explicitlystudied form of GBI in relation to health andwellbeing.Implications for parliament & policy

• Health benefits of GBI may be best realisedholistically working across disciplines, governmentdepartments and sectors including, health, planningand environmental practitioners working together.

• The lack of research on the impacts of differenttype of GBI (for example SuDS, Green Walls;Green Roofs) limits the ability to develop specificevidence-based policy for these interventions, inrelation to health and wellbeing


All comments are greatly appreciated - please help mainstream green infrastructure by adding to the conversation.