Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

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

Version 1 : Received: 5 January 2021 / Approved: 6 January 2021 / Online: 6 January 2021 (15:04:09 CET)

How to cite: Robinson, J.M.; Brindley, P.; Cameron, R.; MacCarthy, D.; Jorgensen, A. Nature’s Role in Supporting Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Geospatial and Socioecological Study. Preprints 2021, 2021010125 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202101.0125.v1). Robinson, J.M.; Brindley, P.; Cameron, R.; MacCarthy, D.; Jorgensen, A. Nature’s Role in Supporting Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Geospatial and Socioecological Study. Preprints 2021, 2021010125 (doi: 10.20944/preprints202101.0125.v1).

Abstract

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 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. 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 m and 250 m of 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 planetary health.

Subject Areas

COVID-19; coronavirus; green space; planetary health; nature connectedness; public health; nature-based interventions

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