Implementing human health as a landscape service in collaborative landscape approaches

Paul Opdam*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalShort surveypeer-review

23 Citations (Scopus)


Landscape services have been found to foster collaboration among actors in social-ecological transitions towards a more sustainable landscape. In this essay I propose that the contribution of landscape to human health could be particularly effective to play such a role. Health is important to most people in society, to business and government, and of economic and social value. Urban green space is widely known to have a positive impact on human health, but outside the urban landscape this effect is much less known. However, human health is underrepresented in frameworks of ecosystems services and applications of landscape services. I explore how health could be incorporated into landscape approaches beyond the urban fringe. For the application in landscape approaches, it is vital that the relationship between landscape and human health is expressed in parameters that are recognized as meaningful by the various actor groups. As a health specification, I propose the concept of positive health, because it is based on well-being and subjective perceptions of health. To characterize the physical assets of landscape that associate with health, perceived landscape naturalness seems a promising concept to explore further. I offer examples of studies illustrating the relationship between landscape naturalness and 5 dimensions of positive health. I conclude with suggesting research priorities to develop a knowledge base for integrating human health in collaborative landscape adaptation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number103819
JournalLandscape and Urban Planning
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2020


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