Nature’s Role in Supporting Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Geospatial and Socioecological Study

Jake M. Robinson, Paul Brindley, Ross Cameron, Danielle McCarthy, Anna Jorgensen

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about unprecedented changes to human lifestyles across the world. The virus and associated social restriction measures have been linked to an increase in mental health conditions. A considerable body of evidence shows that spending time in and engaging with nature can improve human health and wellbeing. Our study explores nature’s role in supporting health during the COVID-19 pandemic. We created web-based questionnaires with validated health instruments and conducted spatial analyses in a geographic information system (GIS). We collected data (n = 1184) on people’s patterns of nature exposure, associated health and wellbeing responses, and potential socioecological drivers such as relative deprivation, access to greenspaces, and land-cover greenness. The majority of responses came from England, UK (n = 993). We applied a range of statistical analyses including bootstrap-resampled correlations and binomial regression models, adjusting for several potential confounding factors. We found that respondents significantly changed their patterns of visiting nature as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. People spent more time in nature and visited nature more often during the pandemic. People generally visited nature for a health and wellbeing benefit and felt that nature helped them cope during the pandemic. Greater land-cover greenness within a 250 m radius around a respondent’s postcode was important in predicting higher levels of mental wellbeing. There were significantly more food-growing allotments within 100 and 250 m around respondents with high mental wellbeing scores. The need for a mutually-advantageous relationship between humans and the wider biotic community has never been more important. We must conserve, restore and design nature-centric environments to maintain resilient societies and promote planetary health.
Original languageEnglish
Article number2227
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages20
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number5
Early online date24 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • COVID-19
  • coronavirus
  • green space
  • planetary health
  • nature connectedness
  • public health
  • nature-based interventions
  • Green space
  • Planetary health
  • Nature connectedness
  • Coronavirus
  • Public health
  • Nature-based interventions


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