A systematic review of the health and well-being benefits of biodiverse environments
Higgins, Sahran L.
Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health Part B: Critical Reviews
Taylor & Francis
Copyright © Taylor & Francis Group, LLC
Reason for embargo
Recent ecosystem service models have placed biodiversity as a central factor in the processes that link the natural environment to health. While it is recognized that disturbed ecosystems might negatively affect human well-being, it is not clear whether biodiversity is related to or can promote "good" human health and well-being. The aim of this study was to systematically identify, summarize, and synthesize research that had examined whether biodiverse environments are health promoting. The objectives were twofold: (1) to map the interdisciplinary field of enquiry and (2) to assess whether current evidence enables us to characterize the relationship. Due to the heterogeneity of available evidence a narrative synthesis approach was used, which is textual rather than statistical. Extensive searches identified 17 papers that met the inclusion criteria: 15 quantitative and 2 qualitative. The evidence was varied in disciplinary origin, with authors approaching the question using different study designs and methods, and conceptualizations of biodiversity, health, and well-being. There is some evidence to suggest that biodiverse natural environments promote better health through exposure to pleasant environments or the encouragement of health-promoting behaviors. There was also evidence of inverse relationships, particularly at a larger scale (global analyses). However, overall the evidence is inconclusive and fails to identify a specific role for biodiversity in the promotion of better health. High-quality interdisciplinary research is needed to produce a more reliable evidence base. Of particular importance is identifying the specific ecosystem services, goods, and processes through which biodiversity may generate good health and well-being.
European Regional Development Fund Programme 2007 to 2013
European Social Fund Convergence Programme for Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.
This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor & Francis in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B: Critical Reviews on 05 Mar 2014, available online: http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/10937404.2013.856361
Vol. 17, Issue 1, pp. 1 - 20
Place of publication