Ways to Wellbeing in Nature

Ways to Wellbeing in Nature
Activating Parks and Protected Areas as natural health centres.

14th December 2022 – 10:00 CET

Scientific evidence indicates that people’s health and happiness increase when they are connected with nature. Yet we are experiencing tangible biodiversity loss associated with removal of places for nature being replaced by buildings, industry, roads and other infrastructure, not to mention the challenges of climate change.

Access to nature is essential for human health and Covid-19 lockdowns have unveiled how important green areas are for our mental and physical well-being.

Healthy Parks Healthy People is the Europe-wide programme developed by EUROPARC Federation to supports parks and Protected Areas at the national, regional and local level to deliver better outcomes for the health of people and nature.

In this webinar, we will dive into experiences from Parks and Protected Areas in England and Germany as natural health centres focusing primarily on mental health. We will look at the ‘Five Ways to Wellbeing’ approach to positive mental health and wellbeing in nature and show how the HPHPe toolkit can be a compass to support current and future planning and programme implementation of these and similar initiatives.

Setting the scene
Peter Rawcliffe – Chair of EUROPARC Federation’s Health and Protected Areas Commission / NatureScot

  • Introduction to EUROPARC and HPHPe
  • Five Ways to Wellbeing in nature

Pete introduced the HPHPe programme and its goal to maximise the contribution of European parks and Protected Areas on: improving public health and wellbeing for all and reducing health inequalities, protecting restoring and investing in biodiversity and, finally, responding to the climate emergency.

He also presented some important data about mental health in Europe and the advantages of ways to wellbeing in nature, which can also include the economic value of protected areas derived from the improved mental health of visitors.

Find Pete’s presentation here

and the video from Dr Amin Khan


Connecting communities with nature to help support mental health through Green Social Prescribing

Jo Hanney – Ranger – Peak District National Park Authority, England

Jo shared the main steps of the Health and Wellbeing Diverse Audience Plan that she is currently managing.

She provided for examples that Peak District National Park Authority has worked on in 2022 to link with communities to use green social prescribing to support mental and physical health and spoke about how the project made use of the Five-Ways to Well-being in Nature actions.

You can find the Peak District Health and Wellbeing with Nature information page here

A mindfulness booklet is also available.

Check Jo’s presentation here for more details.

Green Care – Nature and Mental Health
Meike Krebs-Fehrmann, Biosphere Region Berchtesgadener Land, Germany

Meike introduced the Green-Care project and the nature-based mindfulness training that has been used to support patients suffering from several mental health conditions (e.g. depression, burn-out) to discover nature as a resource for each own everyday life.

She also outlined the main questions and monitoring underpinning the Green-Care clinical research. The first results of the quantitative and qualitative surveys developed and used by the Catholic University of Eichstätt-Ingolstadt were shared. Final report is expected to be published in 2023.

See Meike’s presentation here for more details.

Using the HPHPe Toolkit to realise health projects

Bridget Finton, EUROPARC HPHPe Commission/NatureScot

Bridget introduced the EUROPARC Federation HPHPe Toolkit‘s main features at first. She then focused on the principles of the 5 Ways to Wellbeing’ in Nature, encouraging the Parks and Protected Area Managers to develop the whole range of health-promoting nature-based activities and interventions which are sure to link to all or some of the Ways, either directly or indirectly. One of the examples given was connecting with local healthcare centres and community-based health promotion groups and inviting them to help co-produce outreach programmes to suit their needs and/or making sure information about the natural site is promoted to the healthcare sector and target health groups.

Access Bridget’s presentation here.


More information contributed from our great participants through the chat:

  • Healthy Parks, Healthy People – Health and Wellbeing 2025 programme, Metsähallitus Parks & Wildlife Finland
  • City Oasis Technical University of Munich- Health and Urban Parks. Currently working with Citizen Science to understand the relevance of different urban green spaces to social and mental wellbeing of people in Munich. Which vegetation structures can benefit both, biodiversity and people?
  • An article on “How engaging with nature can facilitate active healthy ageing”
  • Wiki collection of practical experiences – including health – promoted by Protected Areas from EUROPARC Spain (in Spanish)
  • Information page: the benefits of South Downs National Park to your health and wellbeing
  • Institute for Outdoor Learning: Outdoor Mental Health Interventions and Outdoor Therapy, a helpful link to consider where your intervention might sit.
  • Natural Academy trainings into nature connection / eco psychology
  • National Academy for Social Prescribing, whose Thriving Communities regional leads connect health needs with local providers of activity
  • PNAS. A research article from Denmark “Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood”, connected to the type of nature people experience