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A review of nature-based interventions for mental health care

The Natural Environment White Paper “The Natural Choice: securing the value of nature” (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, 2011) sets out the need to strengthen the connection between people and nature. However, the White Paper also acknowledges that the opportunities to benefit from spending time in the natural environment are currently not open to everyone, which can contribute to health and other inequalities. Natural England is committed to increasing the number and range of people who can experience and benefit from access to the natural environment, and through the Outdoors for All Programme is leading the Government’s ambition that ‘everyone should have fair access to a good quality natural environment’.

A spatial framework for targeting urban planning for pollinators and people with local stakeholders: A route to healthy, blossoming communities?

Citation: Bellamy, C.C., van der Jagt, A.P.N., Barbour, S., Smith, M., Moseley, D., 2017. A spatial framework for targeting urban planning for pollinators and people with local stakeholders: A route to healthy, blossoming communities? Environ. Res. 158, 255–268. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2017.06.023
Bellamy C.C., van der Jagt A.P.N., Barbour S., Smith M., Moseley D., Environmental Research, 2017
Pollinators such as bees and hoverflies are essential components of an urban ecosystem, supporting and contributing to the biodiversity, functioning, resilience and visual amenity of green infrastructure. Their urban habitats also deliver health and well-being benefits to society, by providing important opportunities for accessing nature nearby to the homes of a growing majority of people living in towns and cities. However, many pollinator species are in decline, and the loss, degradation and fragmentation of natural habitats are some of the key drivers of this change. Urban planners and other practitioners need evidence to carefully prioritise where they focus their resources to provide and maintain a high quality, multifunctional green infrastructure network that supports pollinators and people. We provide a modelling framework to inform green infrastructure planning as a nature based solution with social and ecological benefits. We show how habitat suitability models (HSM) incorporating remote sensed vegetation data can provide important information on the influence of urban landcover composition and spatial configuration on species distributions across cities. Using Edinburgh, Scotland, as a case study city, we demonstrate this approach for bumble bees and hoverflies, providing high resolution predictive maps that identify pollinator habitat hotspots and pinch points across the city. By combining this spatial HSM output with health deprivation data, we highlight ‘win-win’ opportunity areas in most need of improved green infrastructure to support pollinator habitat quality and connectivity, as well as societal health and well-being. In addition, in collaboration with municipal planners, local stakeholders, and partners from a local greenspace learning alliance, we identified opportunities for citizen engagement activities to encourage interest in wildlife gardening as part of a ‘pollinator pledge’. We conclude that this quantitative, spatially explicit and transferable approach provides a useful decision-making tool for targeting nature-based solutions to improve biodiversity and increase environmental stewardship, with the aim of providing a more attractive city to live, work and invest in. © 2017

A study of walkable spaces with natural elements for urban regeneration: A focus on cases in Seoul, South Korea

Citation: Shafray, E., Kim, S., 2017. A study of walkable spaces with natural elements for urban regeneration: A focus on cases in Seoul, South Korea. Sustain. 9. doi:10.3390/su9040587
Shafray E., Kim S., Sustainability (Switzerland), 2017
Environmental protection issues and the monitoring of pollution, especially for the largest cities in Asia, are becoming increasingly prominent factors for inclusive urban planning of public open spaces. Recently, a walkability concept was implemented in many cities, and in 2016 it became a campaign direction for development in Seoul. This paper considers conditions of implementation for the walkability concept, using examples of pedestrian walkway-making initiatives, and regeneration of existing walkways along water streams in urban case studies in Seoul, South Korea. The role of nature-based solutions was considered in relation to aesthetics, and social and environmental characteristics (e.g., air pollution, oxygenation through greenery) obtained through literature reviews for the case studies. Considering the complexity of the situation, with factors such as Air Quality Index (AQI) warning conditions, and the general positive impact of walkability on enhancing a healthy life style and social interaction and on reducing congestion, this study contributes to the discussion on walkability, and the importance of nature-based urban regeneration projects for densely populated areas in cities. The results of particular cases in this paper suggest the need for careful monitoring and consideration of various factors for urban regeneration walkable design projects. © 2017 by the authors.

A two-step strategy for developing cultivated pastures in China that offer the advantages of ecosystem services

Citation: Chen, H., He, L., Tang, H., Zhao, M., Shao, L., 2016. A two-step strategy for developing cultivated pastures in China that offer the advantages of ecosystem services. Sustain. 8. doi:10.3390/su8040392
Chen H., He L., Tang H., Zhao M., Shao L., Sustainability (Switzerland), 2016
Based on a site experiment on a typical steppe of Inner Mongolia, the short term effects on aboveground biomass, soil water content, soil organic carbon, and soil total nitrogen of four cultivated pastures (CPs) with different compositions of herbaceous species were examined and compared to those of adjacent, natural grassland (NG) enclosed simultaneously. All CPs produced significantly higher aboveground biomass than did the NG after two years of establishment, and the mixed culture of Agropyron cristatum (A. cristatum) and Medicago sativa (M. sativa) produced the highest (312.39% higher than the NG). Without irrigation, soil water content in the 10-20 cm soil layer was also found to be significantly higher in the CPs than in the NG, especially for the mixed cultures of A. cristatum and M. sativa, A. cristatum, M. sativa and Lolium perenne (L. perenne), by 184.25% and 125.97%, respectively. The improvements in soil organic carbon and soil total nitrogen in CPs were less obvious and mixed, with different species compositions showing significant increases at different depths. The experimental results suggested that, with carefully selected species compositions and proper farming measures, CPs could have a positive effect on some of the pathways that generate ecosystem services, at least in the short term. We also analyzed the underlying institutional and socioeconomic causes of China's underdevelopment of CPs, and proposed a two-step development strategy. The first is to promote rain-fed CPs on small-hold farms, which require relatively low inputs in fertilizers and labor. The second is to promote large-scale operations, which will require significantly more inputs in land, irrigation, fertilizers, and machinery. © 2016 by the authors.

Aerosol pollution and its potential impacts on outdoor human thermal sensation: East Asian perspectives

Citation: Wai, K.-M., Ng, E.Y.Y., Wong, C.M.S., Tan, T.Z., Lin, T.-H., Lien, W.-H., Tanner, P.A., Wang, C.S.H., Lau, K.K.L., He, N.M.H., Kim, J., 2017b. Aerosol pollution and its potential impacts on outdoor human thermal sensation: East Asian perspectives. Environ. Res. 158, 753–758. doi:10.1016/j.envres.2017.07.036
Wai K.-M., Ng E.Y.Y., Wong C.M.S., Tan T.Z., Lin T.-H., Lien W.-H., Tanner P.A., Wang C.S.H., Lau K.K.L., He N.M.H., Kim J., Environmental Research, 2017
Aerosols affect the insolation at ground and thus the Aerosol Optical Depth (AOD, a measure of aerosol pollution) plays an important role on the variation of the Physiological Equivalent Temperature (PET) at locations with different aerosol climatology. The aerosol effects upon PET were studied for the first time at four East Asian cities by coupling a radiative transfer model and a human thermal comfort model which were previously well evaluated. Evident with the MODIS and AERONET AOD observations, the aerosol pollution at Beijing and Seoul was higher than at Chiayi (Taiwan) and Hong Kong. Based on the AERONET data, with background AOD levels the selected temperate cities had similar clear-sky PET values especially during summertime, due to their locations at similar latitudes. This also applied to the sub-tropical cities. Increase in the AOD level to the seasonal average one led to an increase in diffuse solar radiation and in turn an increase in PET for people living in all the cities. However, the heavy aerosol loading environment in Beijing and Seoul in summertime (AODs > 3.0 in episodic situations) reduced the total radiative flux and thus PET values in the cities. On the contrary, relatively lower episodic AOD levels in Chiayi and Hong Kong led to strong diffuse and still strong direct radiative fluxes and resulted in higher PET values, relative to those with seasonal averaged AOD levels. People tended to feel from “hot” to “very hot” during summertime when the AOD reached their average levels from the background level. This implies that in future aerosol effects add further burden to the thermal environment apart from the effects of greenhouse gas-induced global warming. Understanding the interaction between ambient aerosols and outdoor thermal environment is an important first step for effective mitigation measures such as urban greening to reduce the risk of human heat stress. It is also critical to make cities more attractive and enhancing to human well-being to achieve enhancing sustainable urbanization as one of the principal goals for the Nature-based Solutions. © 2017 Elsevier Ltd

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