Human beings are an integral and inseparable part of the natural world. Our existence and health ultimately depends on the integrity and functioning of ecosystems. This URBES factsheet presents research findings and policy recommendations which underline the value of biodiversity and ecosystem services in building and protecting physical and mental health. Within and around cities, green infrastructure is the network of green spaces and other environmental features, which sustains biodiversity and brings benefits to human health and well-being.
Trees, parks, gardens, ponds, and other natural areas are the green infrastructure of cities and towns. This infrastructure hosts and protects biodiversity and is the source of much needed ecosystem services. The following selection of research findings shows how urban ecosystems can significantly contribute to improved human health and well-being.
The importance of biodiversity and ecosystems for human health needs to be recognized when developing urban policies. Informed urban planning has the potential to support physical, mental and social well-being. It can also contribute to decreasing health inequalities and improving the health conditions of urban citizens by conserving nature.