As a Tree Consultant, it is important to keep up with the latest research and advice regarding trees. The Forestry Commission recently published a practice guide titled ‘Greenspace Design for Health and Well-being’. It brings together research that has been building up for years, and presents case studies to help make the point.
The guide was a particularly interesting read, and it is great to see a serious study into the more ‘woolly’ aspects of trees that may pass us by unnoticed. It includes phrases it is refreshing to see in a Government publication, such as “design outdoor healing environments”, “holistic approach” and “sensory aspects of the natural environment”.
The guide is intended as a guide for planning the design of outdoor spaces on the National Health Service (NHS) estate, but the principles could be applied anywhere. The document highlights numerous benefits of green space as a whole on our well being. These include a plethora of social, environmental and sustainability benefits. But perhaps more importantly, we are now at a point where we know we can influence people’s recovery from mental and physical stresses through planning and design of outdoor spaces, like the grounds of doctor’s surgeries, hospitals and care homes – or your back garden.
But what is most interesting to me as a Tree Consultant is that trees and woodlands are recognised as having a particular role to play. Woodlands are described as ‘especially restorative environments’. Additional benefits provided by woodlands include their unique acoustic qualities, changes in light conditions from place to place, sounds of bird song, other wildlife and more – all combining to become a complex experience of the senses.
This advice can be used to get the most out of planning the design of outdoor spaces. But whether you are a Tree Consultant or just generally interested, it is well worth a read. The best thing is that it is free to download from the Forestry Commission website – http://www.forestry.gov.uk, enjoy!