Trees are incredibly important. It is essential because it makes oxygen, sequesters carbon, fixes nitrogen, distills water, provides habitat for hundreds of species, accrues solar energy’s fuel, makes complex sugars and food, changes colors with seasons, creates microclimates, and self-replicates. (1)
But trees are much more than that. They are incredibly smart and people who live around trees experience a richer, healthier, safer, and happier life. And now according to new research trees are good for our mental health too!
More trees mean less need for antidepressants
A team of researchers from the University of Exeter shares their findings published in the journal Landscape and Urban Planning with some pleasant results. Londoners who had more trees on their land had less need for antidepressant pills. (2)
The method of the study was straightforward. Between 2009 and 2010, researchers gathered data on antidepressant prescriptions across London and combined that with street trees in the same area. There were an average of 40 trees per kilometer across London, with antidepressant prescriptions ranging from 358 to 578 per 1,000 people. In addition, the researchers looked at other variables such as socioeconomic status, unemployment, smoking, and age. (3)
The results show that the places with higher tree densities had lower prescription rates. Researchers found that for every additional tree per kilometer of street, there was 1.38 fewer prescriptions in the neighborhood. When other variables were considered, the link was just as true but slightly less with 1.18 fewer prescriptions. (2,3)
Trees make us happier people
People who surround themselves with trees, or at least have a view of trees, experience a better health or recover from disease quicker. In fact, one study proved that hospital patients have a better recovery rate and take in fewer drugs simply when the patients can view trees outside of their hospital rooms. (4)
Another research correlated tree coverage with crime statistic rates. The study shows that the more trees there are in the area, the lower the crime rate. Lead researcher, Geoffrey Donovan, tells us, “We believe that large street trees can reduce crime by signaling to a potential criminal that a neighborhood is better cared for and, therefore, a criminal is more likely to be caught.” (5)
Trees help us to be physically healthier
According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the findings show that people who make a frequent habit to surround themselves with trees are physically healthier. The study reports, “About 850 lives are saved each year, the number of acute respiratory symptoms is lower by about 670,000 incidents each year, and the total health care savings attributed to pollution removal by trees is around $7 billion a year.” (6)
Not bad at all! So, plant more trees!
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