The European Centre for Environment and Human Health (ECEHH) is a research centre of the University of Exeter Medical School. The Centre is home to experts from a diverse range of disciplines including epidemiology, policy analysis, systematic reviews, environmental economics, environmental psychology, geographic information systems and microbiology.
Launched in May 2011 with support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and European Social Fund (ESF) Convergence programme for Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly, the Centre has rapidly established a reputation as an internationally leading research institution investigating the beneficial role of natural environments, particularly urban greenspaces, for human population health and wellbeing.
Dr. Rebecca Lovell
“As a Lecturer in Biodiversity and Health Policy at ECEHH, the core of my work relates to identifying how we can best, and most equitably, protect and provide health promoting living environments, synthesising and translating evidence of the links between green infrastructure and health for policy and practice. Working for the likes of the World Health Organisation, Defra, Natural England, the Forestry Commission and multiple Local Authorities, I have seen and assisted in the delivery of evidence that demonstrates the numerous links to better mental, physical and social health green infrastructure can foster. Our challenge is to find ways to integrate the understanding that natural environments have a public health role into the decision-making processes, such as planning and environmental management. I am leading the University of Exeter Medical School’s contribution to the tool and keen to focus on how we use the tool to talk across the environment, health and planning sectors.”
Dr. Tim Taylor
“As a Senior Lecturer in Environmental and Public Health Economics, my role focuses on the valuation of environmental change and health, including the use of cost benefit analyses. As lead economist on the NIHR funded Health Protection Research Unit on Environmental Change and Health and my engagement in four Horizon 2020 funded projects, has focused my most recent activity upon the impact of changes in urban environments to the use of marine ecosystems for health and recreation. I see Greenkeeper as a key step towards delivering a far more mainstream understanding of value in urban greenspace.”
Dr. Ben Wheeler
“I am a Senior Research Fellow at ECEHH with a particular specialism in environmental and public health sciences and using Geographic Information Systems to map the environments in which people live and how their health is impacted. Much of my current research is largely focused on understanding the benefits for green and blue infrastructure for health, with a special focus on physical activity and mental health, as well as the potential risk i.e. pollen and ticks in urban green space. My role in the project is to support novel data analyses and the further development of our knowledge, in order to underpin the tool and its implementation.”
Dr. Mathew White
“I’m a psychologist fascinated in how people’s day to day well-being is linked to how (constructively?) they use their leisure time. A few years ago, we did a study following several hundred people over the course of a day and found that they were happiest (in terms of both positive emotion and feeling that their lives were worthwhile) when they were in parks and other natural spaces. At the time this was a surprise and ever since I’ve tried to learn more about the ways in which interacting with the natural world may be good for human wellbeing by counteracting some of the stresses and strains of living in increasingly urban settings. Despite myself, I can’t help wanting to put price tags on all these benefits to make it easier for policy makers to be able to justify why we should be spending money on protecting these natural places for people’s health and wellbeing.”
Dr. Jake Simpson
“I am an early-career researcher with a keen interest in environmental science, and specifically of trees and forests. My PhD focussed on improving greenhouse gas estimates from peatland fires in Indonesia, where I developed novel methods for measuring peatland depth of burn using a new UAV protocol. My interests span a wide range of topics, including remote sensing and GIS methods for environmental monitoring, climate change science and more recently, assessing how greenspaces impact human health. My role is to bring together a diverse range of environmental data-sets and analyse how these can be used to explain the relationships between environment and public health.”
Dr. Sian de Bell
“After studying the restoration and conservation of natural environments, I developed an interest in people’s connections with nature and how these could affect human health and wellbeing. For my PhD, I investigated the benefits for nature and human wellbeing which can result from improving natural environments in urban areas, focusing on an urban river restoration. The links between the environment and health offer opportunities to benefit both and I think it is important that this evidence is used: this tool is a way to translate research into real world application. I will be collating current knowledge on the health benefits of urban green spaces and analysing data on these benefits for the project.”