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University research project wins £40,000 in funding to promote benefits of rewilding for health and wellbeing

A University of Gloucestershire research project aimed at improving health and wellbeing in urban areas and making them better places to live, has been awarded £40,000 in funding.

The new study, led by Dr Alessio Russo (pictured) from the University’s School of Arts, will improve understanding and raise awareness about how conservation efforts aimed at protecting and restoring natural processes and wilderness areas – rewilding – would benefit local communities.

The project will fill gaps in the current knowledge around the social and economic impact and benefits of ‘grey’ infrastructure, such as buildings and roads, ‘blue’ infrastructure, including rivers, canals and wetlands, and ‘green’ infrastructure, such as trees, parks and fields.

The research is among 12 UK-based projects to win a grant from RECLAIM Network Plus, which looks to create sustainable, healthy, and liveable urban systems that are resilient to climate-related hazards.

As part of the study, the University will host a three-day Urban Rewilding International workshop on 1-3 March that will bring together experts from different fields to share knowledge and design inclusive public spaces.

Dr Russo will co-ordinate the research – officially entitled ‘Urban rewilding aesthetics and people’s needs into multifunctional blue and green infrastructure design’ – with Dr Alice Goodenough from the University’s Countryside and Community Research Institute and Adam Sheppard, Senior Lecturer in Urban Planning and Design at the University.

Dr Russo, Senior Lecturer in Landscape Architecture, said: “I am grateful for the RECLAIM Network Plus funding, which will enable us to create a set of resources that will assist local authorities and other land managers in determining how, where, and what types of urban rewilding might benefit local communities in providing health and wellbeing through access to increased and higher quality green infrastructure.

“Through our work, and the three-day workshop, the project will also contribute to advancing knowledge in the field of Grey, Blue, Green Infrastructure (GBGI) and promote sustainable urban development.”