GoGreenRoutes explores the effects of urban nature on health

15 December 2020

A new Horizon 2020 funded project – GoGreenRoutes - will apply innovative solutions such as urban nature-based interventions, data analysis and citizen science to investigate the links between green spaces and health.

The need for urban green spaces has gained worldwide attention in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, as people are more in tune with their immediate surroundings. GoGreenRoutes shifts the traditional focus of nature-based solutions – towards the co-benefits to multidimensional health-termed “360-Health”. The aim is to identify and monitor positive effects of green spaces to stress reduction, focus, mental resilience and pro-social behavior, while using digital innovation to investigate how green corridors impact physical activity. The project will place users of green routes centre stage, designing them so that they serve users’ needs and are suited for varying urban environments. GoGreenRoutes will take the COVID-19 pandemic into consideration and evaluate the impact of reduced air pollution during and after lockdown, as well as the effects of quarantine on mental health.

Dr. Tadhg MacIntyre, coordinator of the project at the National University of Ireland Maynooth, said: “COVID-19 has reminded us how the thread of our existence is intertwined with biodiversity and the natural world. Access to greenspace, which was highly limited during lockdown scenarios, is critical for mental health and well-being. UN SDG target 11.7 is to provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, particularly for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities by 2030. What we have learnt from the pandemic is that citizens need more greenspace than ever, especially in urban areas. Spending time outdoors while physically distancing reduces the risk of transmission and promotes a positive psychophysiological response which is key to our resilient response to global challenges”.

With a network of partners across Europe, Latin America and China, plans to implement its nature-based solutions in six pioneering cities. An innovative knowledge ecosystem will be established involving another nine urban centres, 14 universities and research institutions, 12 small and medium enterprises and five NGOs. The projects urban interventions will create natural spaces to ensure active lifestyles, mitigate air and noise pollution of traffic and segregate it from cyclists and pedestrians, implement green infrastructure, cultivate co-ownership of green spaces and generate knowledge and innovation for nature-based solutions. Find more information on GoGreenRoutes.