Scottish Longitudinal Study
Development & Support Unit

Current Projects

Project Title:

Using secondary data to examine whether a programme of physical and social interventions in urban forests enhances

Project Number:



Tom Clemens
Catharine Ward Thompson
Richard Mitchell
Jamie Pearce
Scott Ogletree
Lee Williamson

Start Date:

30th September 2022


Our innovative research plan will make use of the Scottish Longitudinal Study (SLS) which provides individual census records which can be linked to individual health service records.1 We will link these to Forestry Commission Scotland data which capture the location, nature, costs and timing of all “Woodlands In and Around Town” (WIAT) interventions delivered in three phases between 2005 and 2018. Together, these data will allow us to assess the impacts of WIAT interventions on child development, using both ‘within subjects’ (i.e. comparing people’s health before and after the WIAT intervention) and ‘between subjects’ (i.e. comparing trajectories of health between those exposed and not exposed to the WIAT intervention).

We will address the following questions:

  1. How can existing WIAT intervention data be used to operationalise theoretically informed longitudinal measures of urban forest exposure?  
  2. Are child development outcomes likely to be better for children living close to WIAT investment areas than those that do not?
  3. How long does any apparent impact of WIAT on child development take to become apparent, and is any benefit sustained?
  4. Does any apparent impact of WIAT on child development vary by programme phase, intervention type or duration?
  5. Does any apparent impact of WIAT on child development vary by sex, age, and socio-economic position?

1. Scotland I. 2019;


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9. Antonovsky A. The salutogenic model as a theory to guide health promotion. Health Promot Int. 1996;11(1):11-18.
10. Pearce JR, Richardson EA, Mitchell RJ, Shortt NK. Environmental justice and health: the implications of the socio-spatial distribution of multiple environmental deprivation for health inequalities in the United Kingdom. T I Brit Geogr. 2010;35(4):522-539.
11. Pearce J, Cherrie M, Shortt N, Deary I, Thompson CW. Life course of place: A longitudinal study of mental health and place. T I Brit Geogr. 2018;43(4):555-572.
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13. Mitchell R, Astell-Burt T, Richardson EA. A comparison of green space indicators for epidemiological research. J Epidemiol Commun H. 2011;65(10):853-858.
14. Hartig T, Mitchell R, de Vries S, Frumkin H. Nature and Health. Annual Review of Public Health. 2014;35(1):207-228.
15. Iwata Y, Dhubháin ÁN, Brophy J, Roddy D, Burke C, Murphy B. Benefits of Group Walking in Forests for People with Significant Mental Ill-Health. Ecopsychology. 2016;8(1):16-26.
16. Komori T, Mitsui M, Togashi K, et al. Relaxation Effect of a 2-Hour Walk in Kumano-Kodo Forest. Journal of Neurology and Neuroscience. 2017;8.
17. Ulrich RS. View through a Window May Influence Recovery from Surgery. Science. 1984;224(4647):420-421.
18. Tsao TM, Tsai MJ, Hwang JS, et al. Health effects of a forest environment on natural killer cells in humans: an observational pilot study. Oncotarget. 2018;9(23):16501-16511.
19. Kühn S, Düzel S, Eibich P, et al. In search of features that constitute an “enriched environment” in humans: Associations between geographical properties and brain structure. Scientific Reports. 2017;7(1):11920.
20. Mitchell R. Is physical activity in natural environments better for mental health than physical activity in other environments? Social Science and Medicine. 2013;91(0):130-134.

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