In part four of ‘Wood For The Trees’ I talked to Suzi Martineu, founder of The Tree Conference. During the Covid-19 lockdown, we talked about how we value the health benefits of trees. We looked the relationship between people and trees, and the science behind those beneficial feelings that we experience in woodlands and forests.
Suzi explained how trees appeal to the senses of the beings that can propagate their seeds – and that includes us humans.
The arrival of this global pandemic has amongst other things drawn government’s attention away from its goals for woodland creation this year, which is disappointing but understandable.
One of the silver linings of this lockdown that we’re all experiencing, is that those of us lucky enough to live near green spaces and trees have reconnected with them and we will undoubtedly come out of this valuing them more.
So the pressure will be there to protect the spaces that we have – and I think – to plant more trees.
It is clearly hard to calculate the economic value of health and well-being but we know from research in urban areas that it is very real. Suzy talked about the cultural change that would allow us to quantify the value. We have to look at savings across other sectors such as the the NHS to fully appreciate the the health benefits that woodlands provide. Because these less tangible benefits are hard to value in economic terms, it is unrealistic to expect individual landowners to shoulder the risk while others receive the reward.
I hope the government will treat health and well-being benefits on a par with carbon sequestration, with water quality and biodiversity – and reward landowners for creating spaces where we can go and commune with the amazing trees in our woodlands.
See more from this series:
Part One: Introduction Wood for the Trees explores the Future of our Forests
Part Two: The importance of Woodland Management
Part Three: Planting Resilient Woodland
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