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Restorative places or scary spaces? The impact of woodland on the mental well-being of young adults

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>12/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>Health and Place
Issue number4
Volume13
Number of pages12
Pages (from-to)799-811
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

In recent years, there has been a substantial increase in mental health problems amongst young adults in the UK, prompting the British Government to seek to identify services and preventative measures to combat the problem. At the same time, the policy agenda around woodland has shifted away from the agro-forestry agenda that dominated much of the late 20th century toward the development of ‘social forestry’, defined in terms of multi-purpose, multi-benefit woodland that can contribute to an enhanced quality of life and well-being. Against this background of change and policy response, this paper examines the extent to which childhood experiences of play—particularly in wooded landscapes—may influence access to woodland in young adulthood, and the potential implications for their health and mental well-being. Engaging with notions of restoration and therapeutic landscapes literatures, the paper maintains that we cannot accept uncritically the notion that the natural environment is therapeutic. Indeed, from this paper it is clear that a range of influences acts to shape young people's relationship with woodland environments, but not all of these influences do so in positive ways.