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Environ Health Perspect. 2015 May;123(5):390-8. doi: 10.1289/ehp.1408216. Epub 2015 Jan 27.

Metro nature, environmental health, and economic value.

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College of the Environment, University of Washington, Seattle, Washington, USA.



Nearly 40 years of research provides an extensive body of evidence about human health, well-being, and improved function benefits associated with experiences of nearby nature in cities.


We demonstrate the numerous opportunities for future research efforts that link metro nature, human health and well-being outcomes, and economic values.


We reviewed the literature on urban nature-based health and well-being benefits. In this review, we provide a classification schematic and propose potential economic values associated with metro nature services.


Economic valuation of benefits derived from urban green systems has largely been undertaken in the fields of environmental and natural resource economics, but studies have not typically addressed health outcomes. Urban trees, parks, gardens, open spaces, and other nearby nature elements-collectively termed metro nature-generate many positive externalities that have been largely overlooked in urban economics and policy. Here, we present a range of health benefits, including benefit context and beneficiaries. Although the understanding of these benefits is not yet consistently expressed, and although it is likely that attempts to link urban ecosystem services and economic values will not include all expressions of cultural or social value, the development of new interdisciplinary approaches that integrate environmental health and economic disciplines are greatly needed.


Metro nature provides diverse and substantial benefits to human populations in cities. In this review, we begin to address the need for development of valuation methodologies and new approaches to understanding the potential economic outcomes of these benefits.

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