Positive Health Effects of the Natural Outdoor environment in TYpical Populations in different regions in Europe (PHENOTYPE) project

Funded through the European Commission seventh Framework Programme
Project number  FP7-ENV-2011-282996
Starting date    01/01/2012
Duration   48 months
Total budget   € 4.468.392,40 
Maximum EU contribution € 3.499.403,00
Project Officer  Dr Lara Passante
Main Website   
UK Website


Prof Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, CREAL, Barcelona (Coordinator)
Dr Hanneke Kruize, RIVM, Netherlands
Dr Christopher Gidlow, CSHER, Staffordshire University, UK
Prof Regina Grazuleviciene, Vytauto Didziojo Universitetas, Lithuania
Prof Roderick Lawrence, University of Geneva, Switzerland
Dr Jolanda Maas, VUMC, Netherlands 
Dr Peter Jan van den Hazel, VGGM, Netherlands 
Dr Edmund Seto, University of California Berkeley  

Project management and contact: Diana van Gent (CREAL) dvangent”at”

WP1  Project Management
WP2  Mechanism Assessment
WP3  Epidemiological Studies
WP4  Therapeutic Studies
WP5  Implications, Health Impact Assessment and Planning
WP6  Policy Involvement and Dissemination


Indications exist that close contact with nature brings benefits to human health and wellbeing, but the mechanisms are not well understood. Most of the research has been conducted in the Northwest of Europe and USA. This leaves a need for a more robust evidence base on links between exposure to natural outdoor environment and human health and well-being across Europe. Furthermore, inconsistency and variation in indicators for green or natural space have often made it difficult to compare results from different studies. PHENOTYPE is intended to provide a better understanding of the potential mechanisms, and better integration of human health needs into land use planning and green space management.

PHENOTYPE is focused on the integration of human health needs, and the translation of the research outcomes into recommendations for policy makers and guidelines for professional practitioners. It will include both positive effects and preconditions for the natural environment to have a positive effect on health. To accomplish this, PHENOTYPE will investigate the interconnections between exposure to natural outdoor environments (rural and urban) and better human health and wellbeing and particularly. The underlying mechanisms will be identified and examined for different population groups. The project will further examine the effects of different characteristics of the natural outdoor environment, and address the implications for land-use planning and green space management.

PHENOTYPE will use a multidisciplinary and integrated approach using the best and most efficient methods to understand the relation between exposure to the natural environment and health. It will specifically address in-depth the potential mechanisms associated, and translate these findings into potential policies and management practices, taking into account potential regional, social and/or cultural differences. Stakeholders will play an active role throughout the work.

Spaces that we include in our research are:

  • Green spaces: roof gardens, city parks, court yards,…

  • “Greenery”: forests, nature reserves/parks, mountains, farmland, trees, landscaping,…

  • Blue spaces: water such as canals, ponds, creeks, rivers, beaches etc

The importance of both quantitative and qualitative characteristics of the natural environment will be assessed by collecting detailed data on these characteristics using a combination of methods of techniques. The focus will be on the day-to-day environments in which people live, other places where they spend time, and the effects on mental and physical health. For this, volunteers from different health, cultural and social backgrounds in Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and United Kingdom are being recruited to complete questions relating to their environment and emotions when prompted by mobile-phone software, Calfit.

Results of the research will be analysed with input from stakeholders from areas including urban planning, medical, academic and policy development professions. It will be translated into a common language and recommendations to the European Commission and national level organisations for integration in policies directly or indirectly affecting human health.

Related articles and presentations

Making the Natural Health Service Work (PDF, file size: 4.64MB) - Lecture by Dr William Bird MBE