This briefing focuses on the impacts of learning in natural environments and the impacts of natural environments on learning processes and outcomes and health. The briefing updates the original evidence briefing (EIN017) published in 2016. The notes are aimed at: policy makers, practitioners, practice enablers, local decision makers, and the wider research community. They highlight some of the implications for future policy, service delivery and research. It is intended that they will inform practitioner planning, targeting and rationales, but not the identification of solutions or design of interventions. Barriers to access or use of natural environments are not considered in this note. The notes consider evidence of relevance to the UK and outcomes for both adults and children.
There is a substantial body of evidence supporting a positive association between engagement with the natural environment and a diverse range of learning processes and outcomes, including educational, social, developmental and health outcomes. Over the last 10-15 years, the quality of the research in this area and the robustness of the findings have significantly improved. There is now more evidence available on individual outcomes, how these are enabled, and on whether these outcomes are more likely to be delivered through learning outdoors, or through a combination of learning indoors and outdoors, than solely in the classroom. Evidence continues to suggest that a greater quantity of natural environments in or around the living or educational setting is associated with positive learning, behavioural and emotional processes and outcomes as well as health benefits.