There is significant evidence that supports the connection between a healthy environment and a healthy society. It has long been recognised that nature provides many societal benefits = healthy parks sustain healthy people!
A number of protected area agencies internationally have developed messages and strategies to make the connection between community wellbeing and the protection of natural areas, primarily in the developed world. Although ´Healthy Parks Healthy People´ has resonance in a number of developing countries (e.g. Nepal, Uganda and Solomon Islands), its actual relevance and potential remains largely untested in such places. The realms of park management, health, community and economic development have often developed independently of one another, despite sharing issues of common concern. There are different approaches to implementing Healthy Parks Healthy People in society and within the operation of an organisation. Each country has a different cultural and political system and a different context and starting point for how to improve the awareness and understanding of the multiple benefits of parks and protected areas to society. It takes both a policy basis and a multidisciplinary operational approach to institute a movement that is truly sustainable and embedded in the focus for a community. There is opportunity for the conservation sector to reposition itself as a provider of broad societal benefits (such as community health and well-being) which is well above and beyond those traditionally associated with conserving biodiversity alone. There is also an opportunity for other sectors, especially within community development, to directly engage in and contribute to the Healthy Parks, Healthy People concept . By profiling these wider benefits, political and community awareness and advocacy can be generated to achieve support (including funding) for conservation whilst simultaneously addressing social issues.