Researching the links between parklands and health
Hughes, M. (2014) Researching the links between parklands and health. In: Voigt, C. and Pforr, C., (eds.) Wellness tourism: a destination perspective. Routledge, London, UK, pp. 147-160.
The concept for this chapter was derived from research into the development and subsequent expansion of a program in Australia and New Zealand known as Healthy Parks, Healthy People. This program is based on the notion that access to parkland is an important means of improving the health of individuals and communities. This includes promoting the benefits of outdoor activities as well as the benefits of interactions with nature.
For the purposes of this chapter, the term 'health' is used in the context of the World Health Organization's (WHO) definition as a 'state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing, and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity' (WHO 1946). This definition is based on an ecological theory of public health recognising that health is influenced by many interrelated factors. This is a holistic view of health that encompasses the wellness paradigm, in terms of the presence of wellbeing as well as the absence of illness. That is, the WHO definition includes a positive construction of health that encompasses concepts such as happiness and quality of life. The World Health Organization identified that all settings of society and activity should provide greater opportunities for promoting health, including provision of parklands for public access. 'Parklands' refer to public open green space such as urban parks, national parks and other natural areas managed for recreation and tourism use. This includes managed areas with elements of nature ranging from contrived manicured gardens and lawn through to nature reserves with some or all endemic ecosystem processes intact.
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