“Nature is Good Medicine: practical steps for implementing a Healthy Parks Healthy People approach”

Contact with nature can deliver real benefits to people’s mental, physical, emotional and social health and well-being. COVID-19 has raised awareness of the value of Europe’s Parks and Protected areas as a setting for people to connect with nature and improve their health and well-being. At the same time, the pandemic underlines their importance in nurturing healthy ecosystems which are good for nature as well as people.
EUROPARC’s Programme “Healthy Parks Healthy People Europe” wants to encourage the use of Europe’s Parks and Protected Areas as natural health centers. Additionally, the HPHPe programme will contribute to key policy areas essential for a green recovery: improving public health and well-being and reducing health inequalities; protecting, restoring and investing in biodiversity; and responding to the climate emergency.

During this webinar, we launched the Healthy Parks Healthy People Europe toolkit which aims to help those responsible for the management of Parks and Protected Areas to realise the potential of their sites as natural health centers in practice. Ways to implement the four key elements of the tool-kit – Making the case; Building partnerships; Developing capacity & practice; and Connecting people & nature – will be explored using presentations and case studies from England, Scotland and Finland. Additionally, the HPHPe Check List provides a step by step guide on how to implement the programme.

Download the Toolkit here


During the webinar, we heard from different projects throughout Europe that are already utilizing Europe’s Parks and Protected Areas as natural health centers.

Health and Well-Being in South Downs National Park
By Kate Drake and Anne Rehil, South Downs national Park, England.

Kate and Anne shared the development of their Health and Well-being Strategy and how it links to the vision and priorities for the National Park. They outlined how they made the case for dedicated resources to support the work and shared the plan they have for Health and Well-being Hubs over the next 5 years. Kate also shared some early project specific work which demonstrates how the strategy will be implemented going forward.

Download the presentation here

The ‘Walk in the Park’ programme
By Dr Susan Warren and Fran Crumley, Loch Lomond and The Trossachs Countryside Trust, Scotland

Susan and Fran introduced the highly successful health walk programme “Walk in the Park”. It provides weekly walks for over 250 people at six rural location around the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. The walks are open for all, but specifically target people with long-term mental and physical health conditions and/or are at risk of loneliness and isolation. The programme is managed by a small team of Health Walk coordinators, and currently engages over 65 trained volunteers to support its delivery.

Download the presentation here

‘Nature to Action’ – rehabilitation with nature conservation
By Hannele Kytö, Parks & Wildlife Finland

Hannele then took us to Finland and gave us a great example of how nature takes care of people AND people take care of nature. She presented the innovative partnership project providing people at the risk of social exclusion with meaningful experiences of nature which can aid their rehabilitation into society and helps nature restoration. Targeted engagement programmes like this have a crucial role in delivering HPHPe in practice.

Download the presentation here