Research published last year found that people who live in urban areas with more green space tend to report greater wellbeing – less mental distress and higher life satisfaction – than city dwellers who don’t have parks, gardens or other green space nearby.
A different study followed the experience of more than 1000 people over five years, in which time some moved to greener urban areas and some to less green areas. The results showed that, on average, people who moved to greener areas felt an immediate improvement in their mental health. This boost could still be measured three years later. “These findings are important for urban planners thinking about introducing new green spaces to towns and cities, suggesting they could provide long term and sustained benefits for local communities,” the lead author of the study said.
A study from Canada began by summarising all the various benefits from contact with nature that other research had found: it can restore people’s ability to pay attention, improve concentration in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and speed recovery from illness. It may even reduce the risk of dying.
Yet another study notes that the first hospitals in Europe were infirmaries in monastic communities where a garden was considered an essential part of the environment in that it supported the healing process. This study of studies, from Norway, says that “in most cultures, both present and past, one can observe behaviour reflecting a fondness for nature. For example, tomb painting from ancient Egypt, as well as remains found in the ruins of Pompeii, substantiate that people brought plants into their houses and gardens more than 2000 years ago”.