Green infrastructure, including blue (water-based) and green public space, can directly and indirectly influence health and wellbeing.

However, access to health and wellbeing benefits is not shared equally amongst the population, particularly in urban areas. People aged 65 and over are most likely to suffer from poor health, yet this group may be the least likely to benefit from green and blue spaces.

Through the GHIA project, researchers with a range of academic specialisms work with project partners from Greater Manchester to investigate the value of urban green and blue spaces in connection with the health and wellbeing of older people.

The project aims to understand the benefits and values of urban green and blue spaces for older people and how green and blue spaces’ attributes, interventions and specific greening projects can be best used to support healthy ageing in urban areas.

This includes consideration of how green and blue spaces can be designed, enhanced, managed and promoted to support its use as part of preventative and restorative therapies and other health and wellbeing related activities. Older people are involved as co-producers of the research to better understand thoughts, experiences and values that are associated with green and blue spaces.

The GHIA project has six sub-aims which correspond to 6 inter-connected work packages.

  • Aim 1: to agree the multi-disciplinary foundation for the research (WP1).
  • Aim 2: To develop knowledge and methods for older people to realise their potential for physical, social and mental wellbeing within green and blue spaces, whilst providing adequate protection, security and care (WP2).
  • Aim 3: To understand, categorise and evidence the ways in which GI can influence the health and wellbeing of older people (WP3).
  • Aim 4: To examine valuation procedures of the role of green spaces in improving the health and wellbeing of older populations (WP4).
  • Aim 5: To develop and apply a new methodology for representing the needs, provision and value of GI for older people. (WP5).
  • Aim 6: To co-develop a set of web-based tools, reference materials and design guide to support dissemination and wider adoption of research outputs (WP6).
Research questions
  • To what extent does ‘greening’ urban environments result in improvements in the wellbeing of older people?
  • How well does the current provision of benefits match older peoples’ needs, and what inequalities emerge?
  • How can different types of provision and need be represented spatially?
  • How can urban parks, grasslands, allotments and riversides help people living with early stage dementia?
  • How can digital technologies support those who may be excluded?

This project is funded by the Natural Environment Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and Social Research Council under the Valuing Nature Programme. NERC grant reference number NE/N013530/1. 

The project runs from August 2016 to July 2019.