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June 26, 2023

PaRx named a key partner in new €6.3million international project on nature-based therapies

As part of the EU’s largest-ever investment into nature-based therapies research, a new €6.3million EU Horizon Europe and UK Research & Innovation funded RESONATE project (Building individual and community RESilience thrOugh NATurE-based therapies) is officially kicking off this month. The BC Parks Foundation, which launched Canada’s national nature prescription program, PaRx, is excited to announce it has been confirmed as a key partner in this four-year, EU-funded research project that will deepen our knowledge about the connections between nature and health.

Nature-based therapies can play an important role in addressing physical and mental health issues, and researchers around the world are eager to delve more deeply into their benefits and challenges. RESONATE will explore these issues with a review of interventions globally, and in-depth exploration of nine nature-based therapy Case Studies across Europe. Three Social Innovation Actions will develop community-focused nature-based resilience Hubs to demonstrate best-practice for scaling-up and scaling-out successful interventions. In addition to Dr. Melissa Lem, Director of PaRx, experts running and researching nature-based therapies in America and Australia have been named as International Advisors for the project.

“It’s an incredible honour for PaRx to be recognized as a leader in the nature and health field by the international scientific community,” said Dr. Lem. “I can’t wait to lend a Canadian perspective to the knowledge and action that will be generated from this ground-breaking collaboration.”

Dr. Melissa Lem at Long Beach in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia.

There is growing evidence that spending time in outdoor places like urban parks, woodlands, mountains, rivers and beaches can reduce the risk of various health and social challenges, including heart disease, diabetes, stress, depression, and loneliness, and build people’s resilience to cope with every-day and longer-term life challenges. Based on this research, PaRx was launched in 2020 to help Canadian health professionals connect their patients to nature to improve their physical and mental health. Over 11,000 prescribers have now registered within Canada, including over five per cent of all practising physicians in the country.

In December 2022, PaRx became the first nature prescription program in the world to be formally endorsed by a national physicians’ association: the Canadian Medical Association. With Canada’s abundant natural heritage and novel partnerships with outdoor organizations like Parks Canada to reduce barriers to access to green and blue spaces for patients in most need, the BC Parks Foundation is internationally renowned for its innovative nature prescription program.

“We want to make sure that people who need it can get out easily and affordably to benefit from the healing power of nature,” says Dr. Andrew Day, CEO of the BC Parks Foundation. “Our goal is to inspire governments and health leaders around the world to launch nature prescription programs of their own, scaling up our innovation internationally.”

Canoers on Deer Lake in Sasquatch Provincial Park, British Columbia

Many “nature-based therapies” have sprung up across the world to support people accessing nature for their health and wellbeing. An evidence-based approach that considers which components make them most effective, as well as potential impacts on natural environments as mainstream implementation occurs, is key to scaling them up successfully among both patients and healthcare professionals.

The RESONATE project runs from June 2023-May 2027 and will use the results of its research to produce a collection of open-access Nature-based Therapy Guides for different stakeholders, practitioners and policy makers. These guides will help local communities decide if introducing nature-based therapies in their area is right for them, and provide a road map for how to ensure the interventions are as accessible and effective as possible.

Top image: Cameron Falls Trail, Northwest Territories.

Media contact:
Jennie McCaffrey, Director of Engagement

The Resonate project is funded by the European Union’s Horizons Europe research and innovation programme under grant agreement No: 101081420; and through associated funding from the UK’s Research & Innovation agency.

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