I was so sad (figuratively speaking) when we moved from an older office - but one which had trees all around and even running water - to a very modern, but boring open floor glass paned antfarm-like building.
After some time I got literally depressed. Walking around the concreted block did nothing for me anymore. No trees, no water, no birds, no squirrels. Just cars and a lot of heat in the summer - and a lot of wind during the winter.
But I live on a one way street with no traffic, and when I look outside my window, there is a giant field of grass with lots of huge trees.
I can go outside, lie down in the grass, enjoy the peace and quiet. I will watch the squirrels outside on my days working from home, trying to fight the crows for food. The crows outsmart them every time, without hesitation. It's part of what keeps me sane in this big city.
Living further away requires a greater activation energy to lead to stable bonding.
Driving that commute though? Never.
(Hello from the Bay Area)
I'm lucky enough that most of our city is like that, incredibly green. But I have worked in some pretty grim buildings, and would never take an office without windows anymore.
I mean, what effect does population density have on an area. Does more density create better health outcomes or less density?
I moved office from the Borough Market area (not exactly the most tree lined part of London) to right near the Old Street roundabout and the lack of greenery, traffic and general noise and density is grim in this part of the city. Despite that it’s the most desirable post code for a tech startup.
Sometimes, places simply have a hole in the foundation that allows access to the ground. These holes often have more dirt on top and can support a rather tall tree. Other places have large containers of dirt which support smaller trees.
It really isn't much different than folks planting trees in the middle of the sidewalk or trees/shrubs in large pots outside, honestly, except for the fact that it won't rain indoors.
If I were really going to include something I missed, though, it'd be wind.
Personally I find tree tops swaying in the wind oddly hypnotic and relaxing. I've thought of why... One reason could be that babies around here are (like I was) put into baby trolleys to sleep outside, summer and winter. If living near trees, chances are that tree tops are the last thing one sees before sleep and the first thing when one wakes up.
> In recent years, study after study has found that living in neighborhoods with abundant green space is linked to positive health outcomes.
But it specifically calls out trees as more beneficial than other green spaces.
> But when it come to promoting human health, not all green spaces are created equal. That’s the conclusion of new Australian research, which finds higher levels of wellness in areas marked by one particular manifestation of the natural world: leafy trees.
So it's not contrasting "nature" vs. "stacked concrete boxes", it's comparing "green space w/o trees" (e.g. a lawn) to "green space with trees" (e.g. a park with trees).
From that perspective, I wonder to what extent the studies (which seem to be based on Australian cities) is biased by the types of environments that generally have trees in Australia. If you have have an avenue that is totally canopied by 100 year old trees like in some US or Canadian cities, is that enough? Or do you need a fairly large green space that also has trees? I wonder because I always found residential areas with old trees on relatively small lots to be really claustrophobic (but I know people who love them, of course).
You reminded me of Central Park. I wonder what it will be like in 20-40 years:
This NatGeo issue also had some cool city renderings:
Further, they evolved to grow in forests when even small openings showed up in the canopy.
Deciding to start cheeking the Ativan and listening to the music my friend brought got me sane enough to start shaving my face, which was apparently all they needed to see. At the time of my release I was still wholeheartedly convinced that there were lizard people among us.
And raw dataset:
I remember seeing canopy goals in some southern cities as well, think it depends on bioregional factors along with citizen/cultural interest.
Housing density and treespace are separate issues.
I've certainly let our child have a nap on the balcony, wrapped up in warm clothing, in temperatures between -5°C and -15°C.
stevekemp posted a good BBC link.
Open pastures with no tree cover just mean easy pickings for an incoming predator, so maybe that hints at why it causes us "distress."
> More intriguingly, they also found that exposure to low-lying vegetation was not consistently associated with any particular health outcome. Exposure to grass was, surprisingly, associated with higher odds of psychological distress. The wellness-boosting feature, then, appears to be the trees.
> The researchers report that living in areas where 30 percent or more of the outdoor space is dominated by tree canopy was associated with 31 percent lower odds of psychological distress, compared to people living in areas with 0 to 9 percent tree canopy. “Similar results were found for self-related fair to poor general health,” with tree-rich residents reporting better health overall, the researchers write.
Rich people have gardens. Poor people liver crammed together in city slums.
...is one story you can tell. These things are hopelessly intertwined with confounding factors, and I never pay attention to them. The ones interesting enough to go viral and show up in my feed are of course extra suspicious.
Why not? Maybe people who feel well are more likely to care about their environment, and e.g. organize protests when someone wants to remove trees from their neighborhood. Meanwhile, depressed people will watch their environment deteriorate, and do nothing about it.
(I am not saying this is how it is, just proposing a possible causal mechanism.)
A possible common-cause explanation could be that some places are designed "for people to feel happy", and those contain trees, but also other things (parks? accessible sidewalk? or perhaps those are simply places where many nice people live?) which make people happy.
wealthy people -> wealthy community
good health trees
Taken together those are likely to capture socio-economic status in all but a few edge cases. With a very large study size, and a huge result (30% difference) it's unlikely that it can be explained by socioeconomic status.
The study discusses this by the way.
Socio-economic status is notoriously difficult to control for.
If you disagree with the studies methodology fine, but I'm satisfied that authors have done their due diligence with respect to socio-economic status.
Most is not like that mind you. But not bad for a city forest
But yeah, it’a city forest. Not the same as wild, but more forest-ty than the discussion implied I think. Most visitors only see the south park of central park.
(I personally don't understand the appeal of a neighborhood that has been methodically expunged of shade)
Not really. This is just a problem of poorly designed gardens, bad choice of species, and greed.
Trees are valuable and fine wood species are always in risk of being stolen. I said this after seeing this afternoon a street reformed and notice the space left by a big blue cedar and a nice Beech that suddenly dissapeared in the center of the field for no reason. Both around 80 years old and perfectly healthy.
Most people would freak if the bank in their street is robbed but don't even notice when the park in their street is robbed.
Any modern development will be a tree wasteland long term, as all of the topsoil is generally scraped away and sold, and the heavy equipment packs down the soil.
I agree re: suburbia, but for different reasons.
It's nothing like taking a walk in the woods, with the plethora of wild plants and animals. It feels like a sad attempt by a city to be less of a city, but you can't replicate or build nature.
In suburban and rural areas where trees are more common, even if the cost of living is low, everything is less dense, people tend to have larger dwellings at lower prices, etc. So, again, is it the trees or the other covarying factors?
Are there any studies like this that transform an area into a green space (with trees, I suppose) and show pre/post outcomes? Ones that weren't driven by the community? (Where that could indicate it was simply a nicer more cohesive community, with that as the cause instead of the green stuff)
That said, this is the sort of result that feels like it should be true, but then those are the results we should most be thorough about our methods to avoid confirmation bias. Research is hard!
Perhaps people who are more suited to the the sort of work that is more often done in densely populated areas are inherently more depressed.
I'm guessing it's the constant maintenance of a lawn that stresses people, and in this case, other people's lawns. That or you're a youtuber or streamer, and the constant sound of lawn equipment is driving you nuts.
As a correlational study, and as with any study like this I'm worried that something they're not controlling for, or not sufficiently controlling for, is the actual cause. They say:
> Self-rated health, depression, anxiety, and risk of psychological distress have been previously shown to be associated with green space in some cross-sectional and longitudinal studies. A range of socioeconomic and demographic factors are likely to confound these associations by contributing to mental health outcomes and to neighborhood selection. Previous research suggests that these factors are likely to include personal socioeconomic circumstances, such as how much money people have, whether they are employed, and their level of education, and other factors, such as age, sex, and relationship status. Accordingly, in this study, we adjusted for baseline measures of age, sex, annual household income, economic status (eg, employed, retired, or unemployed), highest educational qualification, and couple status.
There are a lot of measures that affect human wellbeing that this doesn't take into account, however. For example, wealth and class aren't present. I understand why it would be hard for them to adjust for everything, but that also makes the study much less predictive.
I wonder if there are any natural experiments we could look at where blights or storms that caused sudden reductions in tree cover in a mostly independent fashion?
Spurious Correlations has been posted here many times, but a few representative examples may be worth sharing just the same:
Per capita cheese consumption correlates with Number of people who died by becoming tangled in their bedsheets
Total revenue generated by arcades correlates with Computer science doctorates awarded in the US
Japanese passenger cars sold in the US correlates with Suicides by crashing of motor vehicle
This New York Times opinion piece goes into it in more detail https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/10/opinion/germanys-nazi-pas...
Forests and beaches are both very calming to me though. I think it's the consistent, but non-threatening landscape and background noises and smells. I'm not over-stimulated by those natural environments, so I have peace to introspect. In cities I'm always watching my surroundings and trying to figure out where I am based on the buildings and roads around me, so I definitely feel like I notice and am stimulated by the city. I'm just kind of exhausted afterward and not able to relax because it demands so much attention.
Anyone who has had to maintain a lawn will likely find this unsurprising.
I was looking at Atlanta, GA which I heard has the most trees for a city.
According to Wikipedia, it has 47.9% tree coverage
We also are working on a new 300 acre park project that's only about a mile from downtown, so I'm really excited to spend time there when Fall comes around.
Helsinki central itself is sterile compared to actual forests.
Most of southern Finland however is deforested or wood plantations. About 5% of the area is natural state forest.
IMO Sac is the best location in California if you're a outdoorsmen but need to be close to a city. I live 30 minutes east in the mountains and work from home.
'round these parts, trees seem to perform two useful functions. They fall on houses during storms (quite common) or they burn down whole towns. Be careful what you wish for.
That said, modern civilization, technology and "nature" don't have to be mutually exclusive.
See Japan, Switzerland, Singapore and similar places where there is plenty of unspoiled/augmented nature right next to some of the most modern/luxurious human habitats in the world.
The ideal balance would be something like the sci-fi'ish concept of arcologies ; monolithic, self-sufficient, clean megastructures surrounded by natural wildernesses for people to escape to at their leisure.
Throughout history there have been many "obvious" things that were widely believed and wildly inaccurate.
You can't so much create an "outside" environment for so little effort.
My biggest grievance with where I live is that being "outside" somewhere that concrete and brief strips of grass for dogs to pee in aren't the dominant space occupiers is work and I'm not just outside, I'm at a destination.
Living near trees is the best. I have a cherry tree growing outside my window right now. Still miss the three poplars I used to have at my old apartment.
Nice youtube mini-documentary:
Also, long ago I read that humans liked to sit on benches in park because it feels like we are hiding in the edge of the forests, looking for things from a safe distant place.
> The researchers report that living in areas where 30 percent or more of the outdoor space is dominated by tree canopy was associated with 31 percent lower odds of psychological distress, compared to people living in areas with 0 to 9 percent tree canopy.
Bring up housing in SF and the people complaining about no trees right now are suddenly shuffling everyone into tiny uniform boxes.
I don't think anti-NIMBY's are necessarily anti-trees or anti-parks?
It's an amazing book.
Is it the trees? Or is it the higher income status of the people who can afford to live in the nicer neighborhood?
Complete lack of control for irrelevant variables here.