Landscape benefits for health and care

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Health and care both play a crucial role in maintaining and improving physical and mental health in the community and in contributing to its well-being and resilience. Several studies describe the therapeutic benefits of biodiversity on the psyche of the inhabitants, the presence of the plant acting on the psychological well-being and behavior of citizens, with a special ability to restore mental fatigue, reduce stress, and promote Healing in care centers.  Conversely, the proliferation of certain species, animal (pigeon, rat, etc.) or vegetable (eg ragweed) can be a concern, but an answer can be given precisely by maintaining the ecosystem diversity and complexity, ie the high variability of species in a medium being a sign of good health (Humanity and biodiversity symposium acts, « Does our health depend on biodiversity? »).

According to Frederic Segur, the history of Health issue in landscape policies of major French cities was marked by four main stages: from the balance city / nature as a condition for hygiene and health (second half of the 19th century); to the loss of environmental value in the 20th century functional city; then the rediscovery of the linkages between nature and health by the communities in the late 20th century through pesticides issue; and finally a return to recognition of ecosystem functions and services provided by nature, which announces a renewal of well-being values in the city (Humanity and biodiversity symposium acts, workshop D, Annex 1,  » Does our health depend on biodiversity? « ). In this spirit, the Art and Care Garden of Charpennes Geriatric Hospital associates, on 1200 m² in urban area, different traction areas, sensory therapy and art entertainment including gardening for patients suffering from the disease Alzheimer’s or related diseases including age stroke (Jardin Art et Soins, 2013).

Columbia University researchers have found that children who live in the tree-lined streets have lower rates of asthma than average. In mental health, trees and green spaces improve the ability of concentration and recovery of mental fatigue, reduced instances of assault and domestic violence, and speeds up recovery time after operations (Schellenbaum Lovasi 2008). Health also stimulates the economy. The annual cost of care is rated at £ 2 billion to the only area of Liverpool, the forest is a long term investment vital for the quality of life. To help reduce the « health gap » between rich and poor, with a particularly strong impact on reducing heart disease and stroke, the Mersey Forest has successfully developed projects focusing on the benefits to health community forest, as for example, the program ‘Natural Choices’ with the National Health Service in Liverpool. The implementation of a mapping of the green network resources can target uses in areas where they are most needed in fighting against health inequalities. In addition, the program supports the development of tree cover near hospitals and health center, and a “Natural Health Service” which is based on:

  • Creating social links through generational activities
  • The promotion of physical activity and sport paths on soft modes,
  • Solicitation of attention by contemplation spaces and inspiration,
  • Intellectual development through education and games,
  • The donation by the organization of voluntary actions (The Mersey Forest Plan, 2014).


There where’nt many project in our selection that linked heritage landscapes to health. However, cultural landscape are good places for physical outdoors activity with benefits to health, especially in more urban areas. The Grand Parc Miribel Jonage organizes many outdoors activities all around the seasons, with the orienteering “frosted trail” in winter, or the contribution to the “Color me rad” in spring.

The Parc de la Cerisaie houses the Villa Gillet, former property of the Lyon silk dyers Gillet family, home to cultural institutions. Besides the vocation of cultural venue devoted to thought and contemporary arts of the villa, the park hosts several play areas as well as weight training equipment. It is a convenient place for orienteering, with an educational project developed within the framework of the agreement between the Ministry of Education and the City of Lyon, and formalized by the Territorial Educators of Physical and Sports Activities Entertainment Service for their involvement in Orienteering. This project aims to develop a number of skills such as knowing how to take the information, reading a plan or map, move and manage his effort, in order to learn decision making for going fast without getting lost. The Cherry Orchard Park brings together on the same surface of ornamental massifs near the Villa Gillet and areas widely available to a more natural management, which contributes to its wealth. On extensively managed area, a renewal of certain areas was made on the basis of native shrubs (hazel, serviceberry, hawthorn, elder, rowan, currants …). Stumps and dead wood are left in place securely, and clearing and differentiated mowing practices can preserve herbaceous strata undergrowth and at tree foot. This helps to give access to more natural landscape and playground for urban children, even though sometimes it’s difficult for gardeners to prevent them from running everywhere!

P5 outdoor
Outdoor physical activities, Parc de La Cerisaie, Lyon (left, photo Geneviève Girod) and Soay sheep at the Prefectural Institute for Childhood and Family, Bron Parilly (right, source DEN Lyon Metropolis)

In addition, pets have positive effects on fragile health populations (children, the sick, the elderly) and their presence can be fostered in cultural landscape. Parilly Park offers dwarf Soay race sheeps to the neighbor Prefectural Institute for Childhood and Family, to promote contact with children.

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