It’s Official. Trees Are A Miracle Drug.
Researchers from the U.S., Australia, and Canada, have conducted a study on how trees impact the health of a city. Their research, which was published in the journal Scientific Reports in July, credits trees with remarkable power. They found that, when it comes to how healthy people perceive themselves to be, having 10 trees on your block is the equivalent of having more than $10,000 more in annual salary, or being seven years younger.
And if you add just one more tree, and make it 11 trees on your block? According to the researchers, it “decreases cardio-metabolic conditions in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $20,000 and moving to a neighborhood with $20,000 higher median income or being 1.4 years younger.”
How The Study Was Conducted
This study used Toronto as its testing ground. The researchers adjusted their findings to account for disparities in income, gender, diet, education, and other factors. By holding this study in Toronto, their job was made a little easier since its citizens have access to universal healthcare.
The researchers focused on trees instead of the more general concept of “green space.” They wanted to conduct a one-to-one analysis of trees to people. They also analyzed the impact of street trees, front yard trees, and trees in private spaces like backyards.
There were three main areas they assessed:
- Overall health perception
- Presence of cardio-metabolic conditions (i.e., hypertension, obesity, high cholesterol, etc.)
- Mental health
About 95,000 Toronto citizens participated.
Other Studies On How Trees Improve Our Lives
There’s already a crazy amount of proof that trees have an outsized impact on the economy and health, and the researchers pointed that out in a “But wait! There’s more” format:
It is a known fact that urban trees improve air quality, reduce cooling and heating energy use, and make urban environments aesthetically more preferable. Importantly, several studies have shown that exposure to green spaces can be psychologically and physiologically restorative by promoting mental health, reducing non-accidental mortality, reducing physician assessed-morbidity, reducing income-related health inequality’s effect on morbidity, reducing blood pressure and stress levels, reducing sedentary leisure time, as well as promoting physical activity. In addition, green space may enhance psychological and cardio-vascular benefits of physical activity, as compared with other settings.
Alex Hutchinson saw this study and wrote an article in The New Yorker comparing these results with previous studies. Taken together, these studies are a powerful testimony for trees.
Here’s a summary of what Hutchinson explored:
- Gall bladder patients in a Minnesota hospital who had a view of trees were able to go home almost a full day earlier than patients in rooms with a view of a wall.
- Researchers conducted a county-by-county study of health records, comparing counties where the Emerald Ash Borer wreaked havoc (which killed millions of trees and denuded many American streets), and those unaffected counties. By looking at those counties from 1990 to 2007, the researchers found a much higher level respiratory deaths. In short, Hutchinson says having fewer trees contributed to, “more than 20,000 additional deaths during the study period.”
- The Toronto study’s leader, Marc Berman, conducted a study when he was a doctoral student at University of Michigan. He had test subjects walk 50 minutes daily in either an arboretum or on city streets and conducted memory and attention tests. Those who walked among the trees performed 20% better than their city street compatriots. The results were the same in winter, and for those who disliked walking in the woods.
Keep these studies in mind as you craft your marketing campaigns in the coming years. Tree sales are already on the increase. If your customers are aware of these kind of results, those sales may continue to soar.