On April 28, 2023, assistant professor of environmental science Elizabeth M. Cook and colleagues, including environmental science graduate Olivia Visnic ’20, published new research in Local Environment titled “Effects on perceptions of greenspace benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic.” This study investigates how investment in green infrastructure, such as parks and gardens, can benefit individuals’ mental and emotional health, especially after the shared social-ecological disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused. The closure of schools, parks, and nonessential businesses alongside stay-at-home and social distancing orders severely disrupted everyday life. 

Cook and colleagues discuss how green infrastructure provides ecosystem services or benefits to people, including improving happiness and reducing anxiety. The results of this study indicate that perceiving the outdoors as good for you is related to higher levels of subjective well-being. When considered alongside research regarding environmental justice and children’s access to nature, these findings suggest a need for both distributional and intergenerational justice in greenspace planning, design, and management, as well as explicit attention to the role of greenspace in coping with future social-ecological disturbances.