Healthy Parks Healthy People Commission

Social and health benefits of Nature

We can all agree that physical activity and contact with nature is essential for human health, and that ‘Green exercise’ can make a significant and sustained contribution to good physical and mental health and well-being. However, as this is a relatively new field of work there has been a clear need to build the evidence base to demonstrate the public health benefits that Protected Areas provide.

EUROPARC had been a leader in this field and seeks to develop this work further into practical advice for parks managers. EUROPARC’s previous Health and Protected Areas Working Group took the first steps in building this evidence base. The group compiled a suite of case studies from the EUROPARC network to demonstrate the important work that Protected Areas are doing in the field of health. They show the work that Protected Areas and agencies in France, Latvia, Spain and the UK are undertaking in different health policy areas.  Furthermore, they demonstrate the significant contribution that parks make to human health and well-being through the development of policy or the delivery of projects and programmes. With the creation of this new commission, EUROPARC will take this work further.

Overall Mission

To develop the agenda of Health and Protected Areas on behalf of EUROPARC Federation.


Chair: Peter Rawcliffe, Scottish Natural Heritage (UK)

Bridget Finton, Scottish Natural Heritage (UK)

Liisa Kajala , Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland (FI)

Carles Castell, Diputació de Barcelona (ES)

Nele Sober, Estonian Environmental Board (EE)

Liesbeth Van Gysegem, Regional Landscapes Limburg (BE)

Carol Ritchie, EUROPARC Federation


hphpe toolkit

The HPHPe toolkit “Health and Well-Being Benefits from Parks and Protected Areas” provides practical advice to set up policy and activities in your Park; brings you the latest evidence, reports and other useful resources; and shares inspiring examples from across the EUROPARC network. A must-read for all Protected area staff (including planners, site managers, rangers, and wardens) but also to governmental bodies aiming to develop national and regional policy to leverage health benefits from natural areas.