Smell from nature and reduction of human stress in urban environments

Last changed: 13 December 2022

The purpose of the project is to identify scents from the nature that reduce stress, and implement the results in urban environments.

We humans experience our surroundings with all our senses, including the sense of smell. Despite this, the current management, design and establishment of urban green areas is biases towards visual features.

There is a lack of knowledge about the importance of natural scents for stress reduction in urban green areas and how scents from nature can contribute to physical stress reduction and increased memory. The knowledge of the connection between smell and well-being is limited to a few plant species.

The ultimate goal of the research project is to reduce stress in cities, help enable rehabilitation from anosmia (lack of smell), and create positive outdoor environments. In addition, the project will create a base for research linked to multisensory integration (sight, sound and smell) of the biological diversity in urban environments.

In this project, we ask people in urban settings about their perception of the importance of natural scents for well-being. We perform experiments where we measure stress reduction through physiological responses to different natural scents, and explore whether there are "threshold values" where natural scents can compensate for a negative visual, sound and smell environment.

We will implement our results by establishing plants in three parks: one focusing on rehabilitative scents in a hospital environment and two parks focusing on multisensory experiences in public environments.


Project leader

Marcus Hedblom, Professor, Division of Landscape Architecture SLU, +4618671041
Read more about Marcus Hedblom on his CV page
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Project participants

Johan Lundström, Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer, Karolinska University Hospital, +46852483249
Read more about Johan Lundström on his presentation page

Anna Maria Palsdottir, Associate Professor, Senior Lecturer, Department of People and Society SLU, +4640415536, +46730853219
Read more about Anna Maria Palsdottir on her CV page
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Project time


External funding

Swedish Research Council for Sustainable Development - Formas