A GIS-based Exploration of the Relationships between Human Health, Social Deprivation and Ecosystem Services for Wales

Julia Maria Henke, George Petropoulos

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26 Citations (SciVal)


Being able to analyse the relationships between people and nature has always been of key interest to ecosystems conservation, planning decisions and in a number of disciplines of natural and social sciences. In this framework, it is of paramount importance to evaluate possible correlations between factors such as ecosystem services, human health, and social deprivation. The present study aims at exploring relationships between ecosystem services, human health, and social deprivation for the region of Wales in the United Kingdom. Wales is of special interest because as a region it offers many ‘green’ ecosystems which have already been found to have a positive influence on humans' well-being as well as on socio-economic status. First, a recreational layer showing the size and location of all potential recreational areas in each Welsh local authority was created. Subsequently, correlation/regression analysis and weighted raster analysis were performed which allowed determining quantitatively the degree of correlation between the observed socio-economic factors and recreational areas.

The findings of this exploratory study suggested that the relative size of potential recreational area varies widely within the local authorities comprising Wales. Not all the socio-economic factors which were examined herein found to be correlated with recreational areas. Some variables, such as income and employment deprivation showed high correlations with poor recreation options. Very poor correlation was also reported between recreation options and variables such as life expectancy and long-term illness. Our results, in agreement to previous studies conducted elsewhere, suggested that human health is determined by a complex interplay of more than one of the observed determinants, including for example biology and genetics or living and working conditions. As to our knowledge there are no prior research studies on the topic for our study region, this work provides a key contribution concerning the determination of a “social” value of ecosystems in the context of human health and other socio-economic factors. However, as these are only initial results, further work is required to verify those
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-88
Number of pages12
JournalApplied Geography
Early online date18 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • ecosystem services
  • geographical information systems
  • human health
  • social deprivation
  • Wales
  • United Kingdom


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