Findings of a study, published as part of the Forestry Commission Research Report: Trees, people and the built environment, show that residents are happier if they live near to trees.
The study compared the happiness levels of 200 tenants renting properties from a Yorkshire housing charity; half of the tenants questioned had high levels of nearby tree cover and half had few or no nearby trees.
The results showed that even with everything else broadly the same, tenants with high nearby tree cover had higher happiness scores than those with few or no trees. In particular, tenants with nearby trees were more likely to say they were feeling relaxed and were thinking clearly, than those with no trees.
The properties used in the study had waiting lists, so tenants were randomly assigned their flats, depending on when a flat became available. This resulted in a random assignment of tenants, who had no particular relationship to trees or nature, and provides the advantages of a near-randomised trial, like those used in scientific tests.
Author of the research, Adam Winson, explained “In recent times a lot of attention has been given to improving mental wellbeing or ‘happiness’, and people have often thought that nearby trees in our towns and cities were good for our happiness levels, so this research attempted to test this idea. The results of the study show that our urban trees are not just something to make an area look nice, but may actually be making people happier.”
The research paper forms part of the Forestry Commission Research Report Trees, people and the built environment – Proceedings of the Urban Trees Research Conference 13-14 April 2011 which can be found via this link
I'm a Chartered Arboriculturist at AWA Tree Consultants Ltd. As well as detailing our recent tree survey and arboricultural consultant work, this blog includes wide ranging arboricultural musings, including tree facts, opinion and anecdotes on trees in human culture.