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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2020

The Restorative Potential of Icelandic Nature

Kristjánsdóttir, Harpa Lind; Sigurðardóttir, Sigrún; Pálsdóttir, Anna María


This study aimed to investigate if proposed restorative attributes according to attention restoration theory and supportive environment theory could be experienced and identified in Icelandic landscape and contribute to a restorative experience in nature sites in rural Iceland. A prospective mixed-method study was conducted over the period of one year. Seven different nature sites that were considered likely to have restorative qualities were selected for the evaluation i.e., three forest sites, three seashores, and one park in and in the vicinity of Ísafjörður, Iceland. Each site was evaluated regarding how the participants experienced its restorative qualities and how a stay therein affected their mental state. Nature visits were offered once a week, where the participants visited one of the seven locations for two hours. The findings show that the participants perceived and experienced nature sites as having the characteristics of a restorative environment and that staying at the nature sites positively affected their mental state. External conditions, like weather, which can affect nature visits, were rarely a hinderance. Thus, it can be concluded that numerous coastal areas, forests, and parks in Iceland, especially in rural areas, might possess restorative qualities as well. This result shows that wild and open nature in North West Iceland has the characteristics of a restorative environment and can be utilized for health promotion.


nature-based rehabilitation; vocational rehabilitation; salutogenesis; restorative environment; health promotion; blue health; forestry; perceived sensory dimensions; landscape architecture

Published in

International journal of environmental research and public health
2020, volume: 17, number: 23, article number: 9095

Authors' information

Kristjánsdóttir, Harpa Lind
Westfjords Vocational Rehabilitation Center
Sigurðardóttir, Sigrún
University of Akureyri
Pálsdóttir, Anna María (Palsdottir, Anna Maria)

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG3 Good health and well-being

UKÄ Subject classification

Applied Psychology

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