Urban nature and public health

In general, this work concerns the public health values of parks and other green spaces in urban areas. To date, the research has involved collaborations with researchers in several countries in addition to Sweden, including Australia, Bulgaria, Denmark, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, the UK, and the USA, among others. Some of these collaborative efforts overlap in their concerns with research described under other projects here. Some of the collaborations are ongoing. 

A distinctive feature of these studies is the theorizing about how natural features and settings come to affect health through processes such as psychological restoration, physical activity, social interactions, and mitigation of harmful exposures, as with reduction of air pollution. Most of the completed studies have examined relationships that diverse health outcomes have with the amount of green space potentially available for use and enjoyment by people in diverse urban circumstances.

Some of the work has involved only theoretical analysis and literature review. Empirical studies done to date have applied diverse methodological approaches, from registration of responses to environmental manipulations in laboratory and on-line settings to large epidemiological studies looking at individual or population health outcomes in relation to the amount of green space in the area around the residence. 

One particular set of empirical studies involves cooperation between IBF, the Department of Psychology at Uppsala University, and the Linnaean Botanical Gardens. Several masters’ students and one doctoral student have been writing their theses based on empirical studies done in the botanical gardens, which are increasingly important as green spaces in a densifying Uppsala. Some of the theses have been concerned with occupational health, while others have a clinical character. 

project start



Internally funded


Terry Hartig, professor 


Lymeus, F., Lindberg, P., & Hartig, T. (2018). Building mindfulness bottom-up: Meditation in natural settings supports open monitoring and attention restoration. Consciousness & Cognition, 59, 40-56.

Markevych, I., Schoierer, J., Hartig, T., Chudnovsky, A., Hystad, P., Dzhambov, A.M., de Vries, S., Triguero-Mas, M., Brauer, M., Nieuwenhuijsen, M.J., Lupp, G., Richardson, E.A., Astell-Burt, T., Dimitrova, D., Feng, X., Sadeh, M., Standl, M., Heinrich, J., & Fuertes, E. (2017). Exploring pathways linking greenspace to health: Theoretical and methodological guidance. Environmental Research, 158, 301-317.

Hartig, T., & Kahn, P. H., Jr. (2016). Living in cities, naturally. Science, 352, 938-940

Dahlkvist, E., Hartig, T., Nilsson, A., Högberg, H., Skovdahl, K., & Engström, M. (2016). Garden greenery and the health of older people in residential care facilities: A multi-level cross-sectional study. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 72, 2065-2076.

Lindal, P. J., & Hartig, T. (2015). Effects of urban street vegetation on judgments of restoration likelihood. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 14, 200-209.

Astell-Burt, T., Mitchell, R., & Hartig, T. (2014). The association between green space and mental health varies across the lifecourse: A longitudinal study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 68, 578-583.

Hartig, T., Mitchell, R., de Vries, S., & Frumkin, H. (2014). Nature and health. Annual Review of Public Health, 35, 207-228.

Richardson, E. A., Mitchell, R., Hartig, T., de Vries, S., Astell-Burt, T., & Frumkin, H. (2012). Green cities and health: A question of scale? Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 66, 160-165. 

Johansson, M., Hartig, T., & Staats, H. (2011). Psychological benefits of walking: Moderation by company and outdoor environment. Applied Psychology: Health & Well-being, 3, 261-280.

Bringslimark, T., Hartig, T., & Patil, G. G. (2009). The psychological benefits of indoor plants: A critical review of the experimental literature. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 29, 422-433.

Nordh, H., Hartig, T., Hägerhäll, C., & Fry, G. (2009). Components of small urban parks that predict the possibility for restoration. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 8, 225-235

Last modified: 2021-11-24