Scientists have discovered that people living close to trees show shockingly longer life expectancy. In an article published by Nature, Omid Kardan and Marc Berman from the University of Chicago worked with other scientists to correlate the impact trees had on neighborhoods.
The team of scientists first collected data for over 530,000 trees in the Toronto area recording important information like species, location, and size. They then utilized a database containing the medical records for over 30,000 Toronto natives and recorded incidents of mental health, disease, and other health problems.
“Controlling for income, age and education, we found a significant independent effect of trees on the street on health. It seemed like the effect was strongest for the public [trees]. Not to say the other trees don’t have an impact, but we found stronger effects for the trees on the street,” said coauthor Marc Berman, a psychologist from the University of Chicago.
From their study, these researchers determined regions with larger volumes of trees displayed a variety of correlations including reduced stress, an increased propensity to exercise, better mental health, and of course increased air quality.
Interestingly enough, the positive impacts of trees on the street were more noticeable than trees that were in a person’s backyard.
“People have sort of neglected the psychological benefits of the environment,” Marc Berman states.
Although we cannot be sure having more trees around will help people live longer, the correlations seen can drive policies to help trees become abundant in all cities.