eCite Digital Repository

Nature-based citizen science as a mechanism to improve human health in urban areas


Williams, CR and Burnell, SM and Rogers, M and Flies, EJ and Baldock, KL, Nature-based citizen science as a mechanism to improve human health in urban areas, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 19, (1) Article 68. ISSN 1661-7827 (2022) [Refereed Article]

PDF (Published version)

Copyright Statement

2021. The Authors. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License ( The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

DOI: doi:10.3390/ijerph19010068


The world is becoming increasingly urbanised, impacting human interactions with natural environments (NEs). NEs take a number of forms, ranging from pristine, modified, to built NEs, which are common in many urban areas. NEs may include nature-based solutions, such as introducing nature elements and biological processes into cities that are used to solve problems created by urbanisation. Whilst urbanisation has negative impacts on human health, impacting mental and physical wellbeing through a number of mechanisms, exposure to NEs may improve human health and wellbeing. Here, we review the mechanisms by which health can be improved by exposure to NEs, as explained by Stress Reduction Theory, Attention Restoration Theory, and the 'Old Friends'/biodiversity hypothesis. Such exposures may have physiological and immunological benefits, mediated through endocrine pathways and altered microbiota. Citizen Science, which often causes exposure to NEs and social activity, is being increasingly used to not only collect scientific data but also to engage individuals and communities. Despite being a named component of scientific and environmental strategies of governments, to our knowledge, the intrinsic health benefits of Citizen Science in NEs do not form part of public health policy. We contend that Citizen Science programs that facilitate exposure to NEs in urban areas may represent an important public health policy advance.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:natural environments, urbanisation, public health, policy, Citizen Science
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Public health
Research Field:Health promotion
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Health status (incl. wellbeing)
UTAS Author:Flies, EJ (Dr Emily Flies)
ID Code:148455
Year Published:2022
Web of Science® Times Cited:2
Deposited By:Plant Science
Deposited On:2022-01-12
Last Modified:2022-03-04
Downloads:12 View Download Statistics

Repository Staff Only: item control page