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Trees and forest areas are vital to health

“The psychological benefits of walking through forests are very significant”

Trees and forest areas are vital to health

Dear CVRD:

I am writing to plead for more funding to expand the protected and park areas in your jurisdiction.

At this time it is even more essential that people are able to access as much of nature as possible, for mental health and therefore, improved immunity and physical well being. The value of trees for oxygen, holding carbon, giving off chemicals that support us, is being documented more and more, their combined value described in The Secret Life of Trees https://www.amazon.com/Secret-Trees-Penguin-Press-Science/dp/0141012935 and the Brain Pickings website https://www.brainpickings.org/2016/09/26/the-hidden-life-of-trees-peter-wohlleben/ shows that we need these forest areas more than we ever realized.

Also noted in the Greater Good magazine: “In one recent study, 585 young adult Japanese participants reported on their moods after walking for 15 minutes, either in an urban setting or in a forest. The forests and urban centres were in 52 different locations around the country, and about a dozen participants walked in each area. In all cases, the participants walking in a forest experienced less anxiety, hostility, fatigue, confusion, and depressive symptoms, and more vigor, compared to walking in an urban setting. The results were even stronger for people who were more anxious to begin with.

“The psychological benefits of walking through forests are very significant, and forest environments are expected to have very important roles in promoting mental health in the future,” the authors write. Indeed, various other studies suggest that the practice of “forest bathing” — deliberately spending time among the woods — can help us deal with the stresses and strains of urban living.

In another recent study, Polish participants spent 15 minutes gazing at either a wintertime urban forest or an unforested urban landscape. The trees in the forest had straight trunks and no leaves (because of winter), and there was no other shrubbery below the trees — in other words, no green; the urban landscape consisted of buildings and roads. Before and after, the participants filled out questionnaires related to their moods and emotions. Those who gazed at a winter forest reported significantly better moods, more positive emotions, more vigor, and a greater sense of personal restoration afterwards than those who gazed at the urban scene.

Thank you for your time,

Paula Foot

Duncan

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