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Wolfson Haldane Lecture 2020

Thursday 13 February 2020 18:00
Add to Calendar 2020-02-13T18:00:002020-02-13T18:00:00 Wolfson Haldane Lecture 2020The Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
Lectures and Seminars
The Leonard Wolfson Auditorium
Prof Kathy Willis
Event type
Annual Lecture
Booking Required
Not Required
Disabled access
There is provision for wheelchair users.

If biodiversity is the medicine, then what are its active ingredients?
The emerging scientific evidence-base behind “green health”.

It has long been recognized that nature, especially in cities, is more than just street furniture. It is relatively well-known that trees, shrubs and flowers can provide shade in the summer, removal of particulate matter from polluted air, and habitats for birds, insects and other city-dwelling biodiversity.

Less well-known is the fact that nature can also directly influence our health. The amount of green space, the number of healthy trees and overall color of green of a neighborhood all appear to be important for physical and mental well-being. Intriguing correlations have been emerging from a number of large studies recently to suggest that these features can be associated with reduced incidences of obesity, cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases and depression.

But what is it about nature that leads to these improved health outcomes? Whilst many studies have demonstrated correlations between nature and health, the vast majority do not provide the underlying scientific evidence base to determine causality and this is a recognized knowledge gap. To address this, a new scientific discipline is emerging. This is one which aims to determine the physiological and psychological responses to different kinds of nature that lead to improved health outcomes. This “green health” agenda is being driven forward not by biodiversity scientists, but primarily by the medical profession and public health professionals. They recognize the huge potential of green prescriptions.

This talk will examine this newly emerging ‘green health’ scientific evidence-base. In particular it will discuss studies that have examined physiological and psychological responses to diversity, color, shape (fractal dimension), and smells of nature. What emerges is compelling evidence for quantifiable and significant health benefits associated with certain types of biodiversity.

The Wolfson Haldane Lecture is given by a speaker of international standing in the field of science each Hilary Term. It is named after J. S. and J. B. S. Haldane, who carried out a number of pioneering experiments in the house that formerly stood on the College site. Title and abstract to follow.