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Treemendous Benefits

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Published on: Jul. 2, 2007

Last revision: Dec. 1, 2010

were tested on their proofreading skills, then tested again. The first group was retested after taking an urban vacation, the second group after going backpacking and the third group without taking a vacation. Only the group who went backpacking showed improved proofreading scores.

A second study showed that those who took nature walks had better proofreading scores than those who walked in urban settings or those who practiced indoor relaxation techniques.

Researchers also report that students with views of trees and grass from their college dormitories reported better attention skills than students with more barren views.

Focusing attention

One in 14 children and many adults suffer from Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder. ADHD symptoms include restlessness, trouble listening, antisocial behavior, aggression and difficulty focusing on tasks.

A nationwide research project assessed how playing in a “green” environment affects the symptoms of this disease. They found that playing outside in natural environments reduces kids’ ADHD symptoms more than indoor play or outdoor play at basketball courts or skate parks. The more green and natural the setting, the more ADHD symptoms were relieved.

One study participant whose son had ADHD reported the only way she found to keep him in school for the entire day without being sent home for behavioral problems was to let him play in a park for a half hour in the morning before school.

Reducing Violence

People in housing surrounded by grass or trees exhibited more than 25 percent less household violence than people in housing surrounded by asphalt and concrete. Researchers theorized that green areas help people cope with stress by encouraging them to socialize and giving them places to relax.

And Crime

A study used police departments’ crime reports to determine that buildings landscaped with trees and lawns had half as many crime reports as buildings without natural landscaping.

The attractiveness of natural landscapes likely accounts for this dramatic reduction. Trees and lawns encourage adults to spend more time outdoors, where their presence and vigilance discourages criminal activity.

Both children and adults reported feeling safer in communities surrounded by green.

Improving Communities

Have you noticed how neighborhoods with trees seem to have lots of folks out strolling in late afternoons? You’ll also see more kids playing on lawns, people barbecuing on patios and folks relaxing or working in their yards.

In a study of public housing projects, researchers found that people living in buildings surrounded by green socialize more with neighbors than those living in buildings with stark landscapes. They also reported a greater sense of community with their neighbors.

For the sake of commuters, the sick, your neighbors, coworkers, children, and the vitality of our down town districts—plant and protect trees. They help us in ways we are only beginning to understand.

Dig Deeper

Find out more about the social benefits of trees at:

Natural Environments for Urban Populations

USDA Forest Service’s North Central Research Station
1033 University place, Suite 360, Evanston, IL 60201
847-866-9311

Center for Urban Horticulture

College of Forest Resources
University of Washington Botanic Gardens
3501 NE 41st Street, Seattle, WA 98105
206-543-8616

Landscape and Human Health Laboratory

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, IL 61801
217-333-1000

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