Trees Improve Wellbeing

Health & Wellbeing
by Adam Hogan

There is an increasing body of evidence that urban greening has significant mental and health benefits. Research across the globe has revealed that trees and green spaces:

  • Have restorative powers improving mental alertness
  • Aid recovery from stressful experiences
  • Reduce the impact of heat-islands
  • Filter pollution in high-traffic zones

And, would you believe, the more trees on a block, the less likely people are to be obese, have diabetes or heart disease. When added to vacant urban land, green space significantly reduces feelings of depression and improves overall mental health for nearby residents.

Locally, the PowerLab at the University of Wollongong has been researching the benefits of green urban environments for mental health and wellbeing of children and the potential reduction in risk of Alzheimer’s disease.

WCC Urban Greening Strategy 2017-2037, Current Tree Canopy by Suburb

Wollongong City Council is also leading the way with their ambitious Urban Greening 2017-2037 plan which is strategically investing in trees as critical urban infrastructure. Priority areas for planting are those with low tree canopy cover, places where people gather or move about such as playgrounds, and places where there are high levels of social vulnerability. WCC have mapped the existing tree canopy, and vacant tree sites, with the aim to increase our average canopy from 22% to an optimal 40%.

So, how can we support local initiatives to increase greening in our region?  Here are five ideas.

  1. Get advice and discounted local native plants via the Greenplan Nursery monthly plant sales
  2. Join a Bushcare group or one of the Illawarra community gardens
  3. Report tree vandalism to Council (4227 7111) and concerns to Endeavour Energy (4252 2205)
  4. Check out the GROW LOCAL Edible and Native Garden Guides for the Illawarra
  5. Request Council plant a street tree outside your house at records@wollongong.nsw.gov.au

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