The initiative, just launched from ‘Sierra de Guadarrama’ National Park Authority, of opening a virtual window to natural landscapes for every citizen confined at their houses and at the hospitals, should be gratefully welcomed not only for the benefits and the emotional and physical welfare that contemplating natural landscapes from our beloved and ancient ‘Sierra’ can provide, but also as it constitutes a wake-up call to the need to protect this mountainous landscape’s visual quality, which is, undoubtedly, a benefactor in many aspects of health.
The reason why there is an evident relationship between health and landscape is related to a presentation ‘Health and Landscape’ given long time ago by Professor Roger S. Ulrich from Urban and Regional Planning Department at Texas A&M University, at the excellent Summer Course ‘La Sierra de Guadarrama. Naturaleza, Paisaje y Aire de Madrid’ led by Antonio Sáez de Miera, a well-known naturalist and ‘guadarramista’.
Professor Ulrich’s main objective was presenting the results of scientific research about the effect of contemplating natural or rural landscapes on human health and welfare, indicating that the benefits offered by that contemplation have gone beyond aesthetic preferences, proving their ameliorative nature due to the positive response observed on emotional behaviour, physiological systems, etc… summing up on human health.
The professor pointed out, and it is specially relevant today, that health benefits, derived from landscape contemplation, are higher in individuals suffering from stress or anxiety who have to remain in confinement for long periods of time.
Every research and study explained in his presentation concluded that natural landscapes close to urban areas are remarkable life quality- enhancers for their citizens, contributing to populations’ welfare and health.
It is expected that this gift from the National Park works that way, and would be useful not only to tackle confinement but also and most importantly, to positively influence ill or confined people’s physical health and moral character when looking out from these windows.
All of the above leads us to the need to protect ‘Sierra de Guadarrama’s visual quality, for its beneficial value and to understand that that benign nature for human health could be lessened if its landscapes were to be excessively intervened; intervention that might be against nature conservation. It should not be forgotten that Nature is, most certainly, the main ingredient of the scenery around us, becoming landscape when observed by humankind.
Director of ‘Sierra de Guadarrama’ Research Center.