Examining the Healthy Parks Criteria Tools & Informing Baseline Indicators of Health

Hikers wearing backpacks walk up a trail in a forest
Project Type
April 2016
Research Themes
A team of researchers from Penn State is working with the National Park Service to develop a new way to measure the impact of parks and protected areas on environmental and societal health.

Evidence of the impact of parks and protected areas on environmental and societal health is limited, leading to efforts by the U.S. National Park Service (NPS) and national and global health organizations to develop and initiate evaluative programming and monitoring strategies that can improve understanding of the coupled relationship between ecological and social health. This proposal aims to engage transdisciplinary Penn State University-based (Penn State) researchers to collaborate with the NPS and their partners to be the first to examine, validate, and expand upon the development and implementation of a global metric to measure existing social and ecological health attributes in parks and protected areas ~- the Healthy Parks Criteria Tool (HPCT). Examination and expansion of the HPCT is a significant focal area of the NPS as the organization celebrates and promotes the centennial this year, 2016. The impact of this research endeavor could lead to significant external funding opportunities, and expanded transdisciplinary, Penn State-based scholarship that could potentially improve environmental and societal health, globally. 

Resulting Publications

  • Taff, Derrick Brendan, et al. "Civil War Buff, to Just Buff: Examining Communication Strategies to Influence Physical Activity Behaviors in Gettysburg National Military Park." Recreation, Parks, and Tourism in Public Health, vol. 1 no. 1, 2017, p. 81-102. Project MUSE muse.jhu.edu/article/811803.

  • Taff, B.D.; Benfield, J.; Miller, Z.D.; D’Antonio, A.; Schwartz, F. The Role of Tourism Impacts on Cultural Ecosystem Services. Environments 2019, 6, 43. https://doi.org/10.3390/environments6040043

  • Rice, William & Lacey, Gary & Peel, Victoria & Pan, Bing & Klemm, Celine & Miller, Zachary & Newman, Peter & Hutchins, Brett & Taff, Derrick. (2020). Examining Health Promotion in Parks: A Cross-National Inquiry of Healthy Parks Healthy People Programs. 4. 5. 10.2979/rptph.4.1.02.


Jeremy Wimpey

Jeremy Wimpey
Former Adjunct Assistant Professor, Recreation Park and Tourism Management

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