“I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order.”
We talk a lot here at DeepRoot about trees as green utilities – as resource for mitigating such things as stormwater and heat island effect. And most everyone is aware of the visceral aesthetics of trees in an urban area. Our case study of Ridgefield Park, NJ easily conveys this contrast. But can trees and nature be used to help to reduce health care costs?
This very idea was presented by scientists at the 2010 IUFRO World Forestry Congress in Seoul. Dr. Eeva Karjalainen of the Finnish Forest Research Institute in Metla and a coordinator and presenter at the Congress says that “preserving green areas and trees in citiesis very important to help people recover from stress, maintain health and cure diseases.”
Even US Federal Agencies are getting on board with this message. Doctors are prescribing nature rather than traditional drugs. There is a new $75,000 grant to improve family health through a two-year pilot project linking the federal agencies with health care providers – helping them to become “nature champions.”
Preserving and prescribing green spaces for health benefits is not as radical as it may seem from a layman’s standpoint. However, for these ideas to take root they will need the current research and programs in place to show that trees and green spaces are far more than just environmental utilities. Ultimately we will all benefit from a greater push for conservation of nature.
“Subdued Gooseberry” Gooseberry Falls State Park, Minnesota
Mike Mikulich of Superior, Wisconsin