A team of researchers from the University of Chicago completed a massive study confirming an age-old truth: Having more trees in an urban environment improves the well-being of local residents.
If you want your community to stay good and healthy, having trees around may be the best urban renewal project you can bet on. The research appeared in the open access journal, Scientific Reports. This bodes well for other tree-planting ideas such as urban food forests, forest playgrounds, forest parks and happy tree friends (local wildlife that may live in trees).
Working off prior research showing the benefits of nature scenery but quantifying the effects of a local forest on the community, Omid Kardan, psychologist and his team of researchers checked a readily available dataset from the city of Toronto, an urban community with more than 530,000 trees in suburban and central sections of the city according to a satellite map.
Cross-checking with the health records for over 30,000 Toronto residents, the research team filtered through individual health records and confirmed that areas with trees on the street had an impact on people's health and well-being.
People even feel safer in urban settings when there are trees around!
Psychologist Marc Berman, a co-author of the study, even used a comparison check among respondents and found that locals were happier and healthier "having 10 more trees in a city block" than people who "got an increase in annual personal income of $10,000," or "moving to a posh neighborhood" or "being 7 years younger.” (but this response was a subjective answer by the respondents, which was reinforced by the researchers digging deeper and checking health records too)
The scientific study shows what we already know about trees: An urban forest improves air quality of urban communities by filtering toxins, and other pollutants into their leaves and out of the air. The trees keep people supplied with fresh air which also assists in detoxifying human bodies. Trees provide people with scenery that is soothing and restful to the eyes, and they make people feel safe--especially kids who love to play around them in parks or backyards.
More reason to keep urban spaces as forest projects instead of putting up gentrified high-rise office space or swanky strip malls. People stay happier, not snootier.