Trees and wellbeing

Planting trees not only helps the environment but it also helps us too. We are part of the natural world, and since industrialization, humanity has arguably forgotten we actually depend upon our environment for our very survival.

Walking through an ancient forest, with its oaks and ashes dappling the earth with sunlight, the  wind rustling through the leaves while the birds and insects go about their business, fills our senses with a richness that cannot be found elsewhere. Many of us know the deep feeling of calm and wellbeing that our woodlands give to us, and this experience helps remind us we are very much part of the natural world.

This feeling of wellbeing is another major reason to invest time and effort in planting trees and cannot be underestimated. There is much evidence to support this profound effect on our mental wellbeing.

To quote our very own Peter Deadman;

In Japan, mindfully strolling through woodland, absorbing the smells, sounds and sights, is known as shinrin-yoku or forest bathing. When researchers took groups of volunteers to either urban or forest environments, they found that walking in the woods significantly lowered stress levels (reducing cortisol, pulse rate, blood pressure and sympathetic nervous system activity) compared to walking in the city. Another Japanese study of over three thousand senior citizens found that they were more likely to live longer simply by having parks or tree-lined streets that they could walk in, near their homes.Live well live long p.314

Contact with trees therefore has a significant benefit to human health and wellbeing, which is another reason why the Chinese Medicine Forestry Trust chose to support Tree planting as a course of action.

 In essence contact with trees help to counter the stressful state we experience in our modern lives, that is partly caused by the effects of climate change.

Increasing the amount of woodlands and green areas in our cities has to be a priority for governments, associations and individuals a like. According to the Woodland Trust the UK currently only has 13% woodland cover versus 37% in the EU, so planting trees today will help to make our world a better place on so many levels, whether it be to carbon capture,  protect and increase biodiversity or to improve our mental health.

Jeremy Marshall