Urban Forestry / Urban Greening Research: What are the Benefits of Nature in Cities and Towns?


Note to Reader:

Hosted by the University of Washington, the website Green Cities: Good Health provides an overview of the scientific evidence of human health and well-being benefits provided by urban forestry and urban greening. Nearly 40 years of research shows that the experience of nature is profoundly important to human functioning, health, and well-being.

Green Cities: Good Health

Dr-Kathleen-Wolf_U-of-Wash_138x189p“This is an exciting project because, as a social scientist, I feel that we have reached a ‘critical mass’ in our understanding of why it is important to have nature in cities. This research compendium tells us that urban greening should not be just an incidental, occasional program in cities, but merits comprehensive planning and management to generate all the benefits described in this web site,” states Dr. Kathleen Wolf, Research Social Scientist at the University of Washington.

“The research on the associations of nearby nature and human health and well-being spans several decades, and is distributed across many disciplines, including psychology, sociology, geography, urban planning, economics, landscape architecture, and urban forestry. My own research program has made some contribution to this knowledge base: http://www.naturewithin.info/

“I first envisioned creating this web site while on sabbatical at Awaji Landscape Planning and Horticulture Academy (ALPHA) in Japan. While there I learned of OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAinteresting research being done in horticulture therapy, community design, and urban environmental stewardship. My Japanese colleagues and I worked in the summer of 2008 to translate their research and present it to English speaking audiences using a web site. The web-based research outreach approach carried over to this project when I returned to the U.S.”

About Dr. Kathleen Wolf:

Dr. Wolf is a Research Social Scientist at the College of the Environment, University of Washington, and does research in environmental psychology. She has a joint appointment with the U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station to help develop a program on Urban Natural Resources Stewardship. She has worked professionally as both a landscape architect and as an environmental planner.

Since receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan, Dr. Wolf has done research to better understand the human dimensions of urban forestry and urban ecosystems. Wolf’s professional mission is to discover, understand, and communicate human behavior and benefits, as people experience nature in urban settings. Moreover, she is interested in how scientific information can be integrated into local government policy and planning.