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Overseas research

International literature about the benefits of connecting with nature

Efficacy of nature-based therapy for individuals with stress-related illnesses: Randomised controlled trial 

Stigsdotter, U. K., Corazon, S. S., Sidenius, U., Nyed, P. K. (2018, July). British Journal of Psychiatry, 213, 404-411.

In this issue, Stigsdotter et al show that nature gardens offer similar benefits to cognitive–behavioural therapy for managing stress-related illnesses among people on sick leave. Both treatments resulted in a significant increase in the Psychological General Well-Being Index (primary outcome) and a decrease in burnout (the Shirom–Melamed Burnout Questionnaire, secondary outcome), which were both sustained 12 months later.

Outdoor blue spaces, human health and well-being: A systematic review of quantitative studies

(2017, November). International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 220(8),  1207-1221.

The balance of evidence suggested a positive association between greater exposure to outdoor blue spaces and both benefits to mental health and well-being and levels of physical activity. The evidence of an association between outdoor blue space exposure and general health, obesity and cardiovascular and related outcomes was less consistent.

Oxford textbook of nature and public health: The role of nature in improving the health of a population 

van den Bosch, M., & Bird, W. (Eds.). (2018). U.K.: Oxford University Press.
All-inclusive approach provides a broad international outlook of the role of nature in public health. Evidence based presenting the up-to-date knowledge on the significant health benefits of nature. Challenges the reader and helps promotes a deeper understanding of human and health and environment relations.

The human–nature relationship and its impact on health: A critical review

Seymour, V. (2016, November 18). Frontiers in Public Health,
One of the imperatives for this article is to review existing theoretical and research literature on the many ways that humans are linked with the natural environment within various disciplines. This paper therefore attempts to redefine the human–nature relationship to bring further understanding of humanity’s relationship with the natural environment from an interdisciplinary perspective.


Psychology and climate change: Human perceptions, impacts, and responses

Clayton, S., & Manning, C (Eds.). (2018). U.K.: Elsevier Inc.
This text organizes and summarizes recent work in the field of psychology on the issue of climate change. The book lays out the clear relevance of psychological phenomena to perceptions (e.g., risk perception, motivated cognition, denial), impacts (threats to mental health, social well-being, and sense of place), and behavior (mitigation and adaptation), thus striving to engage diverse stakeholders.

State mindfulness as a mediator of the effects of exposure to nature on affect and psychological well-being 

Stewart, M., & Haaga, D. A. F. (2018, March 12). Ecopsychology, 10(1), ahead of print.

Those who were exposed to the nature video showed higher scores on connectedness to nature, positive affect, state mindfulness and wellbeing than did those exposed to the urban video. State mindfulness mediated the relation between experimentally manipulated exposure to nature and affect as well as psychological wellbeing. These findings provide further evidence for the specific influence of mindfulness on wellbeing in conjunction with connectedness to nature.

Absorption: How nature experiences promote awe and other positive emotions 

Ballew, M. T., & Omoto, A. M. (2018, March 1). Ecopsychology, 10(1), ahead of print.

Results indicate nature fosters awe and other positive emotions when people feel captivated and engrossed in their surroundings. The present study extends research on nature's positive emotional benefits and provides implications for nature-based interventions, specifically on the significance of having absorbing experiences in nature.

The association between natural environments and depressive symptoms in adolescents living in the United States

Bezold, C. P., Banay, R. F., Coull, B. A., et al. (2017, December 19). Journal of Adolescent Health, available online.

Surrounding greenness, but not blue space, was associated with lower odds of high depressive symptoms in this population of more than 9,000 US adolescents. This association was stronger in middle school students than in high school students. Incorporating vegetation into residential areas may be beneficial for mental health.

Engaging with natural beauty may be related to well-being because it connects people to nature: Evidence from three cultures

Capaldi, C. A., Passmore, H. A., Ishii, R., Chistopolskaya, K. A., et al. (2017, December). Ecopsychology, 9(4), 199-211.

Four cross-sectional surveys involving Canadian, Japanese and Russian undergraduate students were conducted and it was found engagement with natural beauty and nature connectedness were positively associated with a variety of wellbeing measures.

Noticing nature: Individual and social benefits of a two-week intervention 

Hassmore, H-A., & Holder, M D. (2017). Positive Psychology, 12(6), 537-546.

The study examined the effects of a two-week nature-based wellbeing intervention. Post-intervention levels of net positive affect, elevating experiences, a general sense of connectedness (to other people, to nature and to life as a whole) and prosocial orientation were significantly higher in the nature group compared to the human-built and control groups.

The relationship between the physical activity environment, nature relatedness, anxiety, and the psychological well-being benefits of regular exercisers 

Lawton, E., Brymer, E., Clough, P., & Denovan. A. (2017, June 26). Frontiers in Psychology.

Results challenge the current thinking that the immediate environment in which exercise takes place is the most important factor for the psychological wellbeing outcomes produced.

Neighborhood environments and socioeconomic inequalities in mental wellbeing

Mitchell, R. J., Richardson, E. A., & Shortt, N K., et al. (2015, July). American Journal of Preventative Medicine, 49(1) 80–84.

The study investigates which, if any, neighborhood characteristics are associated with narrower socioeconomic inequalities in mental wellbeing in a large, international sample of urban residents.

Exploring potential mechanisms involved in the relationship between eudaimonic wellbeing and nature connection

Cleary, A., Fielding, K. A., & Bell, S. L., et al. (2017, February). Landscape and Urban Planning, 158, 119–128.

The essay examines the limitations in our current understanding of the psychological mechanisms involved in the relationship between nature connection and eudaimonic wellbeing.

The effect of randomised exposure to different types of natural outdoor environments compared to exposure to an urban environment on people with indications of psychological distress in Catalonia

Triguero-Mas, M., Gidlow, C. J., & Martinez, D., et al. (2017, March). PLOS One, March 1, 2017

The study extends the existing evidence on the benefits of natural outdoor environments for people's health.

Exposure to greenness and mortality in a nationwide prospective cohort study or women

James, P., Hart, J.E., Banay, R.F., & Laden, F. (2016, April). Environmental Health Perspectives, Advance Publication.

Higher levels of green vegetation are associated with decreased mortality. Policies to increase vegetation may provide opportunities for physical activity, reduce harmful exposures, increase social engagement, and improve mental health. 

A review of nature-based interventions for mental healthcare 

(2016, February). UK: Natural England.

These nature-based interventions (also called green care and ecotherapy) could be part of a new solution for mental healthcare. However increasing awareness and access to these interventions is challenging given the number of organisations delivering nature-based projects and services, the variety of terms and language used to describe their activity and benefits and the variation in delivery models which use different impact measures. 

Green space: A natural high

Gilbert, N. (2016, March 17), Nature, 531, S56–S57.

Exposure to nature makes people happy and could cut mental health inequalities between the rich and poor. 

30 days Wild: Development and evaluation of a large-scale nature engagement campaign to improve wellbeing 

Richardson, M., Cormack, A., & McRobert, L. (2016, February). PLoS ONE, 11(2). 

The campaign asked people to engage with nature every day for a month. About 12,400 people signed up for 30 Days Wild. Samples of those taking part were found to have sustained increases in happiness, health, connection to nature and pro-nature behaviours. 

Natural outdoor environments and mental and physical health: Relationships and mechanisms 

Triguero-Mas, M., et al. (2015, April). Environment International, 77,35-41. 

Green spaces are associated with better general and mental health across strata of urbanisation, socioeconomic status, and genders. Mechanisms other than physical activity or social support may explain these associations. 

Flourishing in nature: A review of the benefits of connecting with nature and its application as a wellbeing intervention 

Capaldi, C.A., et al. (2015). International Journal of Wellbeing, 5(4), 5(4), 1-16.

Nature is certainly not a cure for every ailment and mental health issue. Even so, the evidence suggests that exposure to nature is a health and wellbeing promotion strategy that is underutilised (and perhaps unknown) by mental healthcare providers. Nature interventions may offer opportunities to enhance mood, reduce stress, and promote wellbeing, at relatively low cost. Overall, evidence suggests that connecting with nature is a promising path to flourishing in life. 

Mental health benefits of long-term exposure to residential green and blue spaces: A systematic review 

Gascon, M., et al. (2015, April 22). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 12(4), 4354-79.

The authors found some evidence for a causal relationship between surrounding greenness and mental health in adults, whereas the evidence was inadequate in children. Given the increase in mental health problems and the current rapid urbanisation worldwide, results of the present systematic review should be taken into account in future urban planning. 

Making sense of Ecotherapy 

(2015, October). UK: MIND.

A booklet introducing ecotherapy, a range of nature-based programmes that can support your wellbeing. 

Nature experience reduces rumination and subgenual prefrontal cortex activation 

Bratmana, G.N., et al. (2015). PNAS, 112(28), 8567–8572.

The results show in healthy participants that a brief nature experience, eg, a 90-min walk in a natural setting, decreases both self-reported rumination and neural activity in the subgenual prefrontal cortex, whereas a 90-min walk in an urban setting has no such effects on self-reported rumination or neural activity. 

Longitudinal effects on mental health of moving to greener and less green urban areas 

Alcock, I., et al. (2014, January). Environmental Science and Technology, 48(2), 1247-55. 

Moving to greener urban areas was associated with sustained mental health improvements, suggesting that environmental policies to increase urban green space may have sustainable public health benefits.

Wellbeing: A complete reference guide, wellbeing and the environment 

Cooper, R., Burton, E., & Cooper, C.L. (Eds.). (2014). Wiley Clinical Psychology Handbooks (Volume II Edition).

Part of the six-volume "Wellbeing: A Complete Reference Guide," this volume examines the ways in which the built environment can affect and enhance the wellbeing of society. 

Feel better outside, feel better inside: Ecotherapy for mental wellbeing, resilience and recovery 

(2013). UK: MIND and EcoMinds.

The authors note ecotherapy uses a life course approach allowing you to develop skills and positive social relationships; it builds strength and resilience with benefits for you and your whole community; it develops sustainable, connected communities that challenge stigma and promote inclusion. 

Ecominds effects on mental wellbeing: An evaluation for Mind

Bragg, R., Wood, C., & Barton, J. (2013). UK: Essex Sustainability institute and School of Biological Sciences, University of Essex. 

For the majority of participants both their wellbeing and self-esteem scores showed a statistically significant increase from the beginning to the end of their involvement with Ecominds, indicating an improvement in participant wellbeing over the duration of the Ecominds scheme. 

What is ecotherapy?

(2013). UK: MIND and EcoMinds.

An infographic from the MIND Ecominds Project highlighting what makes up ecotherapy and the benefits.

Report: The economic benefits of Ecominds: A case study approach 

(2013). UK: New Economics Foundation and Mind.

From the Ecominds programme, the case study indicates that there are potentially significant economic benefits to the state from these interventions, over and above the impact on the individuals’ wellbeing.

Experiencing connection with nature: the matrix of psychological wellbeing, mindfulness, and outdoor recreation 

Wolsko, C., & Lindberg, K. (2013, June). Ecopsychology, 5(2), 80-91.

Higher scores on the Connect with Nature scale are consistently associated with greater trait mindfulness, more participation in appreciative outdoor activities, and higher scores on multiple measures of both hedonic and eudaimonic aspects of psychological wellbeing. Discussion focuses on informing optimal strategies for nature-based interventions.

A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments 

Bowler D.E., Buyung-Ali L.M., Knight T.M., &., Pullin A.S. (2010). BMC Public Health, 10, doi: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-456. 

Overall, the studies are suggestive that natural environments may have direct and positive impacts on wellbeing, but support the need for investment in further research on this question to understand the general significance for public health. 

Beyond Blue to Green: The benefits of contact with nature for mental health and wellbeing 

Townsend, T., & Weerasuriya, R. (2010). Deakin University and Beyond Blue.

The report provides a review of existing Australian and international literature on the links between mental health and wellbeing and contact with nature, especially through green spaces.



Me whakawhanaunga 

Maramataka: Mutuwhenua

Monday 8 October

The moon phase today is called Mutuwhenua – it’s the last day of the lunar cycle. We suggest focusing on connecting with your whānau, friends and community in nature.

Focus on connecting with nature to uplift your wairua/spirit and those around you.


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Keep learning

Me ako tonu

Maramataka: Whiro

Tuesday 9 October

The moon phase today is called Whiro, the new moon, the beginning of the new moon cycle. A day where activity was minimal, a day for wananga/learning. This makes Tuesday a great day to Keep Learning.


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Take notice

 Me aro tonu

Maramataka: Tirea

Wednesday 10 October



The new moon is beginning to expand ever so slightly and can just be seen. See nature through a different lens and take some time to Take Notice and be inspired by what’s happening around you.


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Be active

Me kori tonu

Maramataka: Ohoata

Thursday 11 October

Today is a very good day for fishing, eeling and crayfishing, and a good day for planting which means it’s a great day to Be Active! Getting outside and exercising is good for your overall health and wellbeing and strengthens your connection with nature.

Remember to encourage people to be as physically active as their fitness and mobility allow. You don’t have to run a marathon to be active!


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Maramataka: Ouenuku

Friday 12 October

This is the fourth night of the lunar month. Today is a good day to rekindle your connections with nature, re-tell stories with whānau and give back.

Nature provides for us – it gives us everything we need to not only survive but thrive. We, in turn, have a kaitiaki/guardianship role to give back to nature for future generations.

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