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Effects of Natural Environments on Human Well-Being

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Environmental Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 March 2024) | Viewed by 2739

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Department of Landscape Architecture, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, 50-357 Wrocław, Poland
Interests: environmental psychology; safety; landscape preference; privacy; urban parks

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Guest Editor
Department of Landscape Architecture, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, 50-357 Wrocław, Poland
Interests: sustainable urban development; environmental justice; green and blue infrastructure; urban green spaces

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Guest Editor
Department of Landscape Architecture, Wrocław University of Environmental and Life Sciences, 50-357 Wrocław, Poland
Interests: dendroecology; tree rings; climate change; urban green spaces

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

The natural elements of the environment that make up the green-blue infrastructure (GBI) offer a number of ecosystem benefits, such as climate change mitigation, microclimate regulation, air purification, carbon sequestration, wildlife habitat, etc. No less important is the impact of these elements on social and human mental well-being by improving health, enhancing social interactions, and offering respite. 

The beneficial impact of the natural environment on people has long been a topic of research. Ground-breaking at the time of its creation and still in use today, Rachel and Stephen Kaplan came up with their Attention Restoration Theory (ART)—a theoretical framework which explains our preferences for natural landscapes with an optimal level of attention that engages without being either overwhelming or underwhelming. In turn, Roger Ulrich’s theory of stress reduction states that contact with nature has a beneficial effect on our mental and physical health by reducing stress. 

Research on how the natural environments affects people covers a number of aspects. For example, some studies focus on the issue of landscape preferences and other related constructs. In this context, vegetation complexity, wildness, neatness of vegetation, vegetation density and development intensity of the park, suitability for recreation or diversity of vegetation have all been investigated. 

Natural forms of landscape in cities play a particularly important role for people. They significantly affect the quality of city dwellers’ daily life, offering them a taste of nature in the metropolis. Their role in preserving mental health and offering recreation possibilities was even more appreciated during the COVID-19 pandemic. More often than not, research related to the impact of natural forms of the urban environment on people typically focuses on recreational areas, such as parks, urban forests, and riverside areas. Other areas are less frequently studied—for example, areas overgrown with spontaneous greenery as a result of natural succession, forming areas of ‘urban wilderness’. These areas are often called informal green spaces, as they can provide a number of cultural ecosystem services, including recreational functions, despite having a different original purpose. Examples of such sites include former agricultural areas, areas along railway lines, post-military grounds (including historic fortifications), which offer a number of cultural ecosystem services—for instance, cultural diversity, spiritual and religious space, education, inspiration, aesthetics, sense of place or recreation and ecotourism. At the same time, however, fortified landscapes often have a significant natural and landscape significance in terms of providing nature-based solutions and enhancing urban biodiversity.

Looking to understand the impact of the environment on human well-being, we can and should analyse a number of aspects of this phenomenon that make up a multithreaded and complex system. Understanding these phenomena and mechanisms will help us predict the nature and strength of the environment's impact on people, and thus facilitate the management of environmental resources so as to optimise this impact. 

In this issue, we encourage authors to submit articles based on research on the impact of the environment on people from multifaceted perspectives, including ones less obvious and direct. We hope that such a broad discourse will enrich the scientific world’s awareness of the complexity and importance of this problem.

Dr. Aleksandra Lis
Dr. Justyna Rubaszek
Dr. Monika Ziemiańska
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2500 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • green and blue infrastructure
  • urban forestry
  • informal green spaces
  • landscape preferences
  • climate, ecosystem services
  • environmental psychology
  • natural landscape
  • recreational areas

Published Papers (2 papers)

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16 pages, 5471 KiB  
Article
Seasonal Forest Changes of Color and Temperature: Effects on the Mood and Physiological State of University Students
by Eunjin Kim and Hwayong Lee
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2023, 20(14), 6338; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20146338 - 10 Jul 2023
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Abstract
In this study, we attempted to analyze the effect of color and temperature changes in the forest environment over time on the mood and physiological state of university students. The survey was conducted four times considering forest changes such as new leaf appearance [...] Read more.
In this study, we attempted to analyze the effect of color and temperature changes in the forest environment over time on the mood and physiological state of university students. The survey was conducted four times considering forest changes such as new leaf appearance and growth, autumn leaf changes, and fallen leaves. The participants’ moods and physiological states were first evaluated in an indoor environment; a second evaluation was conducted after contact with the forest. The color visual information of the forest environment was analyzed through color extraction from photographs taken each survey day. The participants’ moods and physiological states were measured using the Korean Profile of Mood States-Brief and a heart rate variability measuring device, respectively. Changes in the forest experience according to the season had an effect on university students’ mood states. In particular, the effects of the spring forest experience included the relaxation of tension and the activation of vigor. This result is considered to be influenced by factors such as the season’s temperature and the green color, which is predominant in the spring forest. However, no physiological changes were found in the participants according to each season. The results of this study can lead to greater consideration of the role of color in urban forest planning for universities and other public spaces. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Natural Environments on Human Well-Being)
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22 pages, 968 KiB  
Systematic Review
Natural Environments in University Campuses and Students’ Well-Being
by Helena Ribeiro, Keila Valente de Souza Santana and Sofia Lizarralde Oliver
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2024, 21(4), 413; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph21040413 - 28 Mar 2024
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Abstract
Most recent university campuses follow the North American model, built on city limits or countryside, with large separate buildings in open green spaces. Studies suggest that the prevalence and severity of mental health issues among university students has been increasing over the past [...] Read more.
Most recent university campuses follow the North American model, built on city limits or countryside, with large separate buildings in open green spaces. Studies suggest that the prevalence and severity of mental health issues among university students has been increasing over the past decade in most countries. University services were created to face this growing problem, however individual-based interventions have limited effects on mental health and well-being of a large population. Our aim was to verify if and how the natural environment in campuses is focused on programs to cope with the issue of mental health and well-being among students. A systematic review of literature was undertaken with search in Scopus and LILACS with the keywords “green areas” AND “well-being” AND “Campus”, following PRISMA guidelines. As a result, 32 articles were selected. Research on the topic is recent, mostly in the USA, Bulgaria, and China. Most studies used objective information on campuses’ greenness and/or university students’ perception. Mental health was usually measured by validated scores. Findings of all the studies indicated positive association between campus greenery and well-being of students. We conclude that there is a large potential for use of university campuses in programs and as sites for students’ restoration and stress relief. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Effects of Natural Environments on Human Well-Being)
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