According to a new study, living near trees improves your health, your perception of your own health and has a monetary value equivalent to $20,000 a year! Living on a street with an extra 11 trees can have health benefits equal to a 20,000 annual salary increase.
Adding just 10 trees to a neighborhood could improve self-perception of health in ways comparable to being seven years younger, the study found.
The study, based on a huge database of public trees and health records in Toronto, found that having an extra 11 trees per street reduces the chance of cardio-metabolic conditions, which include heart disease, diabetes and obesity.
The study, led by scientists from the University of Chicago, was published in the journal Nature on Thursday, July 9th. The study examined the effects of Toronto’s 530,000 public trees and analysed the health records of more than 30,000 residents. They focused specifically on public trees lining the city’s streets, rather than private gardens and municipal parks.
The researchers were looking particularly for health benefits in regard to overall health perception, cardio-metabolic conditions, and mental health conditions. The study looked at self-perception of health as it has previously been proven as a reliable predictor of health outcomes.
According to the study, planting an extra 10 trees per street in a city has boosting the income of every household in that street by $10,000, because of the combined benefits in terms of self-perception and decreased risk of conditions such as heart disease and hypertension.
The team recommended such a public health measure as cost-effective, estimating the cost of planting and maintaining 10 urban trees as a maximum of $5,000 per annum.
Trees are known to improve air quality and reduce pollution, with a 2010 study claiming that trees and forests save the US some .8bn in public health benefits in a year, removing 17.4 million metric tons of air pollution.
Trees and public gardens also have stress-relieving properties and can promote physical activity among residents. However, this study did not identify which particular health benefits were associated with which particular causes.
In Europe, Paris claims to be the most densely wooded capital, with 478,000 trees in total and 8,000 along the Boulevard Périphérique, the ring road which encloses the city.
Time to plant some trees!