The value of green

A busy day at work gave me just half an hour at lunchtime to visit my tree yesterday for #30DaysWild but clearly illustrated the importance of the project for me.  Without being overly-romantic, as soon as I stepped into the wood I could feel its calming influence, despite the drizzle.


The benefits of being outdoors in a natural space are becoming increasingly widely accepted.  Edward O. Wilson first hypothesised in his book Biophilia, in 1984, that we have an affiliation with all aspects of the natural world deeply rooted in our genes.  He postulated that both the emotional response of adult mammals to babies and our love of planting flowers around our homes, for example, have origins deep in our evolutionary past which have helped ensure our survival.   Flowers, after all, lead to seed production and thence food.

Natural England published a review in February highlighting the role of nature-based interventions in mental health care (NECR204) and Dr (Sir) Sam Everington talked on Radio 4 this week about the value of ‘Social prescribing’.  At his pioneering medical practice in the deprived London borough of Tower Hamlets, this includes the provision of support for people to get out and work in community gardens,

Quantifiable evidence is starting to pile up.  Lucy Jones interviews Peter James of Harvard University, in her piece Green Peace: How Nature Actually Benefits Your Mental Health’ in the online magazine Vice.  James and his colleagues studied 100 000 female nurses from across the USA over an eight year period and found that those living in the greenest areas had a mortality rate 12 percent lower than those from the most urban areas – much of this attributable to improved levels of mental health.  The good news is that relatively small interventions such as planting street trees and increasing the amount of park space available can help those in the most built up areas significantly.

However, I digress…

The most obvious inhabitants of my tree today are the snails which seem to be all over it, taking the opportunity of a damp day to roam and graze widely without danger of dehydration.


The snail in the picture below has used its toothed tongue or radula to scrape the lower surface off a leaf and then done what comes naturally after a fibre-rich meal!


One thing I noticed on the tree itself is that, where mature leaves have been damaged and lost, the tree is now carrying out its own maintenance – tiny new leaves are sprouting from the axillary buds I talked about in, The news you’ve all been waiting for. Life goes on.




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