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Open AccessArticle

Do Protected Areas Contribute to Health and Well-Being? A Cross-Cultural Comparison

1
Institute of Landscape Development, Recreation and Conservation Planning, BOKU Vienna, Peter-Jordan-Straße 65, 1180 Vienna, Austria
2
Department of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, University of Milan, Via Celoria 2, 20133 Milano, Italy
3
WSL—Eidg. Forschungsanstalt, Zürcherstrasse 111, 8903 Birmensdorf, Switzerland
4
Maria Curie-Sklodowska University in Lublin, Plac Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej 5, 20-031 Lublin, Poland
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(7), 1172; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16071172
Received: 4 February 2019 / Revised: 27 March 2019 / Accepted: 27 March 2019 / Published: 1 April 2019
(This article belongs to the Collection Ecosystem Services)
Due to their valuable landscape and natural characteristics, protected areas (PAs) distinguish themselves from other green spaces. Studies that survey individuals on the perceived capacity of PAs to provide health benefits are very limited. However, the importance of PAs for societal health could emphasize the necessity to preserve them. In addition, studies of cross-country comparisons of nature-based activities show strong cultural differences with regard to the importance of wild nature and landscape preferences. Cross-country comparisons of the perception of PAs as a resource for personal well-being and health are lacking. An extensive survey with face-to-face questionnaires was conducted in PAs in Poland, Austria, and Italy with an overall sample size of 1390 people. It examined both emotional and physical personal well-being in the context of a stay in a PA. In general, the results showed that between the three countries, different perceptions of the capacity of PAs to contribute to personal health and well-being exist. Both diverse emotional and physical benefits were associated with a stay in a PA. Moreover, respondents from the three countries assessed the perceived capacity of a PA to reduce negative physical symptoms, such as muscular pain or tension, and negative emotional symptoms, such as depression or stress. View Full-Text
Keywords: protected areas (PAs); health and well-being; ecosystem services; cross-cultural; emotional health; physical health protected areas (PAs); health and well-being; ecosystem services; cross-cultural; emotional health; physical health
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Jiricka-Pürrer, A.; Tadini, V.; Salak, B.; Taczanowska, K.; Tucki, A.; Senes, G. Do Protected Areas Contribute to Health and Well-Being? A Cross-Cultural Comparison. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 1172.

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