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A mountain of health benefits? Impacts of ecological restoration activities on human wellbeing


Marsh, P and Auckland, S and Dudley, T and Kendal, D and Flies, E, A mountain of health benefits? Impacts of ecological restoration activities on human wellbeing, Wellbeing, Space and Society, 4 Article 100132. ISSN 2666-5581 (2023) [Refereed Article]

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2023 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License, (

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DOI: doi:10.1016/j.wss.2023.100132


Just as ecological degradation contributes to many public health problems, restoration of these areas can be health-enabling not only for the environment but also for people. However, despite growing recognition of the positive relationships between ecological restoration and human health, knowledge gaps persist. Rural areas are most closely affected by ecological degradation from industries such as forestry, farming and mining and rural populations suffer the poorest health outcomes. Nevertheless, the wellbeing benefits of ecological restoration for participants and communities in these areas are under-researched. Rural wellbeing is impacted by factors of geographic isolation, poverty and limited health services which generate rural health inequities. Place-based ecological restoration activities have the potential to address individual and community-level wellbeing issues. In this paper we report on a qualitative study from the Break O'Day municipality in Tasmania, Australia, the site of over 20 years of ecological restoration by local people. The organisation leading the restoration work, the Northeast Bioregional Network, observed that well-organised holistic ecological restoration projects could cultivate ecological ethics and improve human health. Using interview data, we explored the lived impacts of ecological restoration on various aspects of participant health and wellbeing, as well as the observed community-wide benefits. Our analysis identified certain characteristics of place-based ecological restoration participation that are supportive of wellbeing, and the opportunities for improved synergies between ecological restoration and mainstream rural health service provision. We conclude that participation in well-designed, holistic ecological restoration programs can contribute to ameliorating complex health problems affecting rural communities.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:ecological restoration, rural health, environmental degredation
Research Division:Human Society
Research Group:Human geography
Research Field:Health geography
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Specific population health (excl. Indigenous health)
Objective Field:Rural and remote area health
UTAS Author:Marsh, P (Dr Pauline Marsh)
UTAS Author:Auckland, S (Mr Stuart Auckland)
UTAS Author:Kendal, D (Dr Dave Kendal)
UTAS Author:Flies, E (Dr Emily Flies)
ID Code:155377
Year Published:2023
Deposited By:Wicking Dementia Research and Education Centre
Deposited On:2023-02-17
Last Modified:2023-03-21
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