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Landscape and health

Marina Geli
Minister of Health of the Government of Catalonia

The state of our health is the result of a series of financial, cultural, social and environmental factors, some of whose effects have already been identified. These factors, however, do not only act individually. Rather, they interact and generate very complex phenomena which have an impact on the population's health. This impact explains the variability of indicators such as life expectancy found among the different European Union member countries. Thus far, the interaction and subsequent impact of all these factors on the population's health has not been sufficiently researched, but the existence of the landscape/health binomial is unquestionable. In addition to individual social and family conditions, space and territory are also important. The European Landscape Convention recognised this fact in 2000 when it specifically determined that "landscape is an important part of the quality of life for people everywhere: in urban areas and the countryside, in degraded areas as well as in areas of high quality, in areas recognised as being of outstanding beauty as well as everyday areas". The Convention concluded that landscape "is a key element of individual and social well-being". In Catalonia, our towns and cities have been transforming themselves to respond to the needs arising from financial, social and cultural changes, and it is very important that these transformations take place without lessening the qualities of our rural and urban landscapes because we know for certain that quality, well-laid out and managed landscapes have a positive impact on people's health. Within this context, we have published Landscape and Health (Paisatge i salut) which stems from a seminar with the same name held in Olot in June 2006 and organised by the Landscape Observatory of Catalonia in collaboration with the Catalan Government's Ministry of Health. Landscape and Health brings us closer to the various landscape issues and the effects that landscape -and, by extension, the territory- has on health. It also offers a full review of the initiatives which have been developed in this field, from landscape policies to therapeutic experiences. A book such as this is a clear example of the need to generate integral policies in which the needs of the public are taken into account globally. This is exactly what the Government of Catalonia intended when it approved and applied the Act for the Improvement of Districts, Urban Areas and Towns Requiring Special Attention. This Act is expressed through the Districts' Health Programme which seeks to guarantee maximum health for the public in our country. Marina Geli Minister of Health, Government of Catalonia

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