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Greening Health: The Role of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism in Health Promotion

Daniel Dustin, Chris Zajchowski, Elise Gatti, Kelly Bricker, Matthew T. J. Brownlee, Keri Schwab


In this paper we describe the role of parks, recreation, and tourism in health promotion. We begin by proposing a new definition of health that is rooted in an ecologically based worldview. Our definition sees human health and environmental health as being inextricably intertwined. Indeed, we see them as being one in the same. We then discuss ecological insights rooted in biomimicry that illuminate the kinds of contributions parks, recreation, and tourism professionals can make to health promotion. This application requires us to see ourselves, in the words of Aldo Leopold, as “plain members and citizens of a larger community of life” (Leopold, 1949, p. 224), citizens who recognize that we have much to learn from other species about how to live our lives in a manner that ensures a sustainable future for us all. We then place the principles of biomimicry into a larger global context by explicating a model of ecologically-based health promotion through which park, recreation, and tourism professionals might better understand how the work they do contributes to health promotion. We offer two examples--one international and one local—of what this work looks like in practice, emphasizing how they reflect the principles of biomimicry and an ecological model of health promotion. Finally, we invite readers to ponder the implications of what we propose for the work they do in parks, recreation, and tourism.

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biomimicry; ecology; health; health promotion; parks; recreation; tourism

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