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Researchers: Other countries can learn from Sweden in tackling social distance


In two reports, Google show that when we are practicing social distancing, contact with nature becomes more important for people’s well-being, This is in line with previous research at the University of Gävle.

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Two reports from Google show people’s movements during the corona crisis. Sweden stands out, since restrictions are less strict than in other countries, but it becomes clear that in Sweden people visit green spaces within and near cities more often than they used to.

Karl Samuelsson

Karl Samuelsson

“We are not surprised. Our research shows that people recuperate and find a sense of meaning and belonging in nature, and these reports from Google indicate that this becomes even more important when we practice social distancing like we do now because of COVID-19,” Karl Samuelsson, environmental researcher at the University of Gävle, says.

Karl points out that we need to rethink nature’s ability not only to provide resilience during natural catastrophes, but also its ability to strengthen people’s mental and physical well-being during a crisis.

“We need to use nature-based solutions to a much greater extent than what we have done.”

Sweden can set an example

The environmental researchers from Gävle see this crisis as an unprecedented opportunity to learn more about human conditions and humans’ relationship to their habitat.

Stephan Barthel

Stephan Barthel

“Here, other countries can learn from Sweden. When they open up their societies again, what is it that people want when they are let out from their flats? These studies from Google show that Sweden can set an example for other countries,” says Stephan Barthel, director for Sustainable Urban Development at the University of Gävle.

Google: (2020a). COVID19: Community Mobility Reports. Retrieved April 5, 2020, from: https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/

Google: (2020b) Sweden March 29, 2020 Mobility changes. Retrieved from: https://www.google.com/covid19/mobility/



Karl Samuelsson, environmental researcher at the University of Gävle.
Phone: 073-759 08 50
E-mail: karl.samuelsson@hig.se

Stephan Barthel, director for Sustainable Urban Development, University of Gävle.
Phone: 076-360 57 05
E-mail: stephan.barthel@hig.se

Text: Douglas Öhrbom
Phone Stephan Barthel och Karl Samuelsson: Anna Sällberg

Published by: Douglas Öhrbom Page responsible: Anders Munck Updated: 2020-04-27
Högskolan i Gävle
Box 801 76 GÄVLE
026-64 85 00 (växel)