Health And Well-Being

Five Constituents of Well-being

Many benefits to human health and well-being come from ecosystem processes and landscape components in the watersheds where we live.  For example, in urban areas where there is great canopy cover from mature trees, rates of skin cancers are lower (physical health), and heating and cooling costs are lower (an economic benefit that also contributes to well-being).   Parks provide opportunities to meet neighbours get together with friends and family (social health).  Bike and walking trails are places for physical activity (physical health) and exposure to natural areas which reduces stress (mental health).  

The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis report  identifies five health domains that are connected to ecosystem services :

  • Basic Materials for a Good Life: "the ability to have a secure and adequate livelihood, including income and assets, enough food and water at all times, shelter, ability to have energy to keep warm and cool, and access to goods."
  • Health: "the ability of an individual to feel well and be strong, or in other words to be adequately nourished and free from disease, to have access to adequate and clean drinking water and clean air, and to have the ability to have energy to keep warm and cool."
  • Good social relations: "the presence of social cohesion, mutual respect, and the ability to help others and provide for children"
  • Security: "safety of person and possessions, secure access to necessary resources, and security from natural and human-made disasters."
  • Freedom of Choice and Action: "the ability of individuals to control what happens to them and to be able to achieve what they value doing or being.”

Figure 1.3 from the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis  report "depicts the strength of linkages between commonly-encountered categories of ecosystem services and components of human well-being, and includes indications of the extent to which it is possible for socioeconomic factors to mediate the linkage. For example, the ability to purchase a substitute for a degraded ecosystem service offers a high potential for mediation. The strength of the linkages and the potential for mediation differ in different ecosystems and regions. In addition to the influence of ecosystem services on human well-being depicted here, other factors influence human well-being including other environmental factors as well as economic, social, technological and cultural factors. In turn ecosystems are affected by changes in human well-being." Source: Corvalan C, Hales S, McMichael A (2005) Ecosystems and Human Well-being: Synthesis. Millennium Ecosystem Assessment WHO, Geneva.



How is your well-being dependant on your local environment?

Use the interactive map  on this website to explore connections between ecosystem services in the watershed and benefits your health and well-being.

  • use the drop-down menu to select health and well-being benefits
    • associated with the domains of health and well-being
    • derived from ecosystem services
  • view and query spatial data using the legend on the right
  • select picture icons to see personal stories about environment and health contributed by people in the watershed... or share your own!
 Explore Now!