In Making Healthy Places, Second Edition: Designing and Building for Well-Being, Equity, and Sustainability, planning and public health experts Nisha D. Botchwey, Andrew L. Dannenberg, and Howard Frumkin bring together scholars and practitioners from across the globe in fields ranging from public health, planning, and urban design, to sustainability, social work, and public policy. This updated and expanded edition explains how to design and build places that are beneficial to the physical, mental, and emotional health of humans, while also considering the health of the planet.
How do health professionals acknowledge the climate crisis and its connections with human health? Howard Frumkin published an article in The Journal of Climate Change and Health that offers ways for health professionals to consider hope as a path forward for themselves, their patients, and future generations.
Josh Lawler, director of UW’s Nature and Health initiative which studies the connections between the environment and human health and wellbeing, recently connected with GeekWire for an interview. Two projects by Nature and Health researchers, Pooja Tandon and Spencer Wood are highlighted.
REI Co-op’s advocacy director, Marc Berejka shares the pandemic-time opportunities we have to work on accessibility in nature and spend time outside. UW’s Nature and Health initiative and our recent conference are highlighted as contributing to this national and global movement.
As the climate continues to change, so too must our response in how we address it. Cities in the Pacific Northwest and all across the United States experienced high heat events in summer 2021. The Biden Administration recently published a White House brief to announce immediate actions to protect workers and communities from extreme heat better. This announcement follows a broader administrative pledge towards workplace safety, climate resilience and environmental justice.
Nature and Health researcher Kathleen Wolf, Ph.D., was a co-author on a report featured in the White House Brief. This project is related to her prior work on urban forestry, health and community design. Dr. Wolf collaborated with colleagues at the U.S.D.A. Forest Service and American Forests on the 2021 report. The result is a menu of practical ways to use nature-based solutions to reduce climate risks, promote health of urban trees and forests, and create additional co-benefits of improved human health and well-being within communities. The guide lays out nine broad strategies and then provides more specificity by suggesting adaptation approaches and tactics to move from evidence to action.
Specific action opportunities, described as tactics in the guide, include:
Developing local tree planting projects that reflect community and cultural values while addressing local climate impacts and their associated health effects. This will also encourage relationship-building and nurture attachment-to-place by creating community collaboration.
Strategically planting different tree and plant species that better anticipate a local community’s needs as the climate changes (i.e. Planting more water-tolerant trees in wetter climates; diverting stormwater runoff to forests, swales or highly vegetative areas; providing ample room for root growth to better withstand extreme winds, etc.)
Engaging engineers, urban planners, sustainability officers and local policymakers to design urban spaces that include trees to shade sidewalks and bike lanes to encourage people to walk, bike or ride public transit more frequently.
In addition to protecting communities from extreme heat, the guidelines are linked to enhancing public health by improving air quality, increasing storm resilience, and promoting mental health and social cohesion.
This actionable report is but one of many initiatives to improve public health amidst climate change that are being developed by federal agencies, including Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security and Agriculture; the Environmental Protection Agency; and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. These new programs also focus on how to identify when heat disproportionately impacts communities of color and how to provide holistic support better to build resilient communities in the face of climate change.
Up until recently, there have been very few studies on how being outside and hiking might positively improve the functioning and quality of life for those with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Researchers from the Nature & Health steering committee and @uwepidemiology are looking to change that. In a feature article from @washingtontrails magazine, we learn about how @UofWA and the Seattle Epidemiologic Research and Information Center at the @VeteransAffairs are partnering with Iraq veteran and grad student Joshua Brandon to study the benefits of hiking and reestablishing community in outdoor spaces.
Nature & Health director Josh Lawler shared this important takeaway in a recent feature article from @washingtontrails magazine. This quick read shares what researchers are discovering about how being outside is so good for us, examples of how this information can guide future public policy, and the ways that the pandemic has reshaped our relationship with the outdoors.
Registration is now open for our upcoming Nature & Health Virtual Conference! Over the course of three days, we will convene over 150 speakers who are engaged in nature and health across multiple communities and disciplines. From healthcare and education to environmental management and community activism, we’re excited to host a variety of conversations on the connections between nature, human health, and well-being. Together, we’ll learn how new insights in these fields are shaping policies, programs, practices, and designs to benefit all people and nature in a variety of settings.
The tri-campus Forest Bathing map represents the collective action of the UW Sustainability Action Plan Engagement Committee (Lauren Updyke, Lauren Brohawn, Toren Elste, Ellen Moore, Cheryl Wheeler, and Daimon Eklund). Daimon created the forest bathing map using Arc GIS StoryMap with site recommendations and photos provided by Alexa (UW Bothell), Cheryl (UW Seattle), and Ellen Moore (UW Tacoma).