Access to Nature Should be a Human Right - Report
Author: Marty Middlebrook
A growing body of evidence demonstrates health inequalities are linked to access to nature and that nature is vital for good mental and physical health at all ages.
Friends of the Earth Europe have adapted a report by the Institute for European Environmental Policy to call for the recognition of access to nature as a basic right and not a luxury.
The report showed that living within 300 metres of green spaces was correlated with better than average physical and mental health, lower obesity levels and lower blood pressure among pregnant women, while children demonstrated less allergies and less behavioural issues. It then identifies a strong link between lack of access to natural space and poor health outcomes and inequality. Wealth was often an indicator of better access to nature, with poor people more likely to live in urban areas with very little green space.
In Australia, Planet Ark's own research, conducted for National Tree Day, corroborates many of the issues identified in the European study. The 2016 report Adding Trees - A Prescription for Health, Happiness and Fulfilment, found that just 10 minutes' relaxing outside is enough to significantly reduce blood pressure, and time in nature reduces a persons chance of developing a range of diseases by up to 43%.
As well as the health benefits, the 2014 report, Valuing Trees – What is nature worth?, found that Australians place monetary value on nature, with home buyers prepared to pay more for a home in a green, leafy area while parents consider green school grounds to be just as important as good academic outcomes and reputation.
Friends of the Earth Europe have called for "access to nature to be recognised as a fundamental human right, and for increased efforts to provide accessible and well maintained natural areas for particularly disadvantaged groups."
- Read more at Planet Ark’s National Tree Day website – and be sure to get involved by either organising or attending an event
- Share the news with friends and family and encourage local government to consider green space as important economic, as well as social, capital in planning
- Take a walk in nature