Green Space and Health

Course dates

  • Thursday  24 September  10am – 2pm   Register here

Course description

Individuals, organisations, and movements across the world have called for declaration of a climate emergency to respond to the doubling of global greenhouse gas emissions since 1980 and the decimation of wild birds, mammals, fish, invertebrates and insects on our planet. Both rising temperatures and this dramatic loss in biodiversity now threaten our own ability as a species to thrive or even survive. Human health is inextricably linked to the health of the wider living systems that support us. They create the air we breathe, the food we grow, the proliferation of diseases that affect us and much more. This complex set of relationships is sometimes referred to as ‘planetary health’ and is increasingly recognised as a critical perspective in health improvement and protection. 

Though long overlooked, it is also increasingly understood that the defence of natural habitats is fundamental in combatting climate change. Living systems such as forests, meadows, mangroves and salt marshes remove and store large amounts of carbon from the air - they offer 'natural climate solutions' for the planetary ills we face. Our societies have viewed the destruction of such living systems as necessary collateral damage for human prosperity. Only by recognising our own reliance on these biological foundations, can we begin to build a sounder and more regenerative way of life. 

It is against this backdrop that this course focuses on the relationship between nature and health at place level. In the last decade especially, evidence has grown of the benefits of green space for mental and physical health, including the prevention of long term medical conditions. Access to green space in the places where people live is increasingly recognised as a social determinant of health and a factor in health inequalities. Research from around the world demonstrates that a 'green prescription' can deliver health benefits for patients. The course explores the evidence base and its implications for healthcare. How does this affect clinical practice? What does it mean for the design of clinical settings? How should it inform preventative healthcare? And how might you, working in the health sector, make green healthcare part of your work?

Part I.  Self-study online

Prepare for the workshop at your convenience using our interactive self-study package to review evidence on the relationship between green space and health and its implications for healthcare policy and practice. Topics include the relationship between sustainability, health and green space; green space as a social determinant of health; how green space is used in clinical settings; and tips for leadership.

The preparation materials require 3-4 hours to complete and materials are available two weeks before the Workshop.

By the end of the self-study module you will be able to:

  • Describe the role of green space in a sustainable health system
  • Summarise the evidence on the health benefits of engaging with green space
  • Translate the evidence base into clinical settings
  • Identify your own local ‘green space for health’ initiative

Part II.  Live workshop online

This is an opportunity to explore with others the implications of the green space evidence base for healthcare and to develop the confidence and skills to launch your own ‘green space for health’ initiative.  The workshop is an opportunity to explore with others the implications of the evidence base on the benefits of green space for health. Topics include: (1) How to develop new forms of practice, facilitate others to engage with green space locally, or create a new green space where you work; (2) how to overcome barriers and find opportunities to take your ideas forward – e.g. using levers for change, values and narratives.  By the end of the workshop you will feel confident to take forward your own 'green space for health' initiative.

Part III: Work-in-Progress

We offer the opportunity to meet again as a group a month or so after the Workshop for a two-hour session to discuss how projects have progressed. You are invited to present what you've done so far, answer questions and take feedback from colleagues and facilitators. 

"The 3 phases to the course are great. The pre-course prep allows for best use of the online workshop and then some time and effort on our parts should lead to a successful and interesting part 3 in the autumn. This material is relatively new to most of us, so this re-inforcement step is critcial! I look forward to seeing how we all get on."


Carey Newson - Green Space Programme Lead at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare 

Carey has worked as a consultant in social and environmental policy, including for Oxford's Environmental Change Institute, the Department for Transport and a local Trust. She has an MSc in Environmental Psychology and a doctorate in Cultural Geography. At the Campaign for Better Transport she led many programmes to support walking, cycling and public transport through best practice. She began her career in journalism and broadcasting. 

Rachel Stancliffe - Founder and Director of the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Rachel worked in public health initiatives in the UK, Georgia and Kazakhstan before helping to develop The Cochrane Library during the first decade of its life. She has a Human Sciences degree (Oxford) and a Master’s degree in demography and epidemiology from the London School of Economics.


Sarah Dandy - NHS Forest Co-ordinator at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Sarah has developed the NHS Forest since its inception in 2009. She is an experienced sustainability advisor, with an MA in environment and development from Kings College, London. She has worked extensively in the state sector, including for DEFRA and also worked for an environmental consultancy.


Dr James Szymankiewicz - Director of Strategy and Partnerships at the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

James is a GP in North Devon who has worked in healthcare commissioning for several years.  He brings extensive experience in partnership working with roles including current Chair of Devon Nature Partnership and Chair of the North Devon GP Collaborative Board.  His focus is on delivering effective change through a collaborative, cross sector approach.


Dr Alan Kellas - Psychiatrist

Alan has recently retired from twenty years in NHS psychiatry. Over the last few years he has become interested the theory and practice of eco-psychologies and eco-therapies - how nature in its many forms can be a resource for mental health. He has explored these as part of strategies for mood regulation and managing challenging behaviour amongst other indications. Alan is currently the Green Care lead on the Royal College of Psychiatry Sustainability Committee.

Dr Jacob Krzanowski - Psychiatrist

Jacob is a specialist registrar in general adult psychiatry carrying out his training at the South London Maudsley (SLaM) NHS Foundation Trust. He has an interest in the interface between mental health and green spaces and has organised and lead green space walking groups for patients and staff. In 2018-19 he worked with CSH to establish the Green Walking Project to promote and facilitate green space walking groups for psychiatric patients, in partnership with the Royal College of Psychiatrists. He continues to support this and other work through his role as a CSH Associate.


About CSH

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare is a registered charity working since 2008 to help the NHS reduce its carbon footprint. Its is the world's foremost institution for sustainable healthcare research and practice. The team draws on knowledge and experience from public health, clinical practice, environmental consultancy, research and public policy to develop methodologies and metrics to transform models of care. CSH collaborates with partners inside and outside healthcare to engage professionals, patients and the wider community in understanding the connections between health and environment, and to reduce healthcare’s resource footprint. For more information about its work see, click here.