Health: The Need for Green Outdoor Spaces

January 2021

Research

By 2050, it is projected that approximately 70% of the world population will be living in urban areas. As urban centers continue to densify at a rapid pace, access to greenspaces is diminishing. A great deal of evidence has surfaced demonstrating how greenspace plays a pivotal role in population-level mental health by supporting psychological restoration, encouraging exercise, improving social coherence, decreasing noise and air pollution affecting cognition and brain development, and improving immune functioning (1). As we negociate the future urban landscape, integrating natural environments into urban planning and enhancing access to green space is a promising tool to better mental health and wellbeing.


Given the rise in worldwide urbanization and concurrent urban alienation, there is a need to look at these two topics through an interdisciplinary lens. An abundance of evidence exists, illustrating the positive relationship between levels of urban greenspace and mental health. For instance, a study published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine found individuals to have less mental distress, less anxiety and depression, greater wellbeing, and healthier cortisol profiles when residing in urban areas with more green space than less green space (2). While causality is difficult to determine, it is evident that green spaces offer a range of mental health and serve as an essential intervention measure for combatting the rising global burden of psychatric disorders in dense urban contexts.  


Roofscapes’ proposal to transform untapped rooftops into accessible green roofs opens a promising avenue for protecting and improving city dwellers' mental health. By integrating alternative natural environments into European centers, Roofscapes aims to foster a healthy urban living while simultaneously protecting biodiversity and combating the adverse effects of urban densification.

  1. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA
  2. National Center for Biotechnology Innovations