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How do different types and characteristics of green space impact mental health? A scoping review

Beute, F., Marselle, M., Olszewska-Guizzo, A., Andreucci, M.B., Lammel, A., Davies, Zoe G., Glanville, J., Keune, H, O'Brien, L., Remmen, R., and others. (2023) How do different types and characteristics of green space impact mental health? A scoping review. People and Nature, 5 (6). pp. 1839-1876. ISSN 2575-8314. (doi:10.1002/pan3.10529) (KAR id:102737)


1. Green space matters for mental health but is under constant pressure in an increasingly urbanising world. Often there is little space available in cities for green areas, so it is vital to optimise the design and usage of these available green spaces. To achieve this, experts in planning, design and nature conservation need to know which types and characteristics of green spaces are most beneficial for residents' mental health.

2. A scoping review of studies that compare different green space types and characteristics on mental health was conducted. A total of 215 (experimental, observational and qualitative) papers were included in the scoping review.

3. This review highlights a high level of heterogeneity in study design, geographical locations, mental health outcomes and green space measures. Few of the included studies were specifically designed to enable direct comparisons between green space types and characteristics (e.g. between parks and forests). The included studies have predominantly experimental research designs looking at the effects of short-term exposure to green space on short-term mental health outcomes (e.g. affect and physiological stress). More studies enabled only indirect comparisons, either within the same study or between different studies.

4. Analysis of the direction of the mental health outcomes (positive, neutral, negative) from exposure to various types and characteristics of green space found positive (i.e. beneficial) effects across all green space types. However, green space characteristics did appear to render more diverse effects on mental health, which is especially the case for vegetation characteristics (e.g. higher vegetation density can be negative for mental health).

5. The scoping review reveals gaps in the present evidence base, with a specific need for more studies directly comparing green space types and characteristics within the same study. Proposed future research directions include the use of longitudinal research designs focusing on green space characteristics, considering actual exposure and systematically addressing heterogeneity in factors influencing the relation between green spaces and mental health (e.g. type of interaction, user experience).

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1002/pan3.10529
Uncontrolled keywords: gardens, green space quality, green space types, trees, biodiversity, mental wellbeing, parks
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH75 Conservation (Biology)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > DICE (Durrell Institute of Conservation and Ecology)
Funders: European Research Council (
University of Surrey (
Depositing User: Zoe Davies
Date Deposited: 08 Sep 2023 09:05 UTC
Last Modified: 11 Apr 2024 10:55 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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