We already know that trees are officially good for your health. The Government’s public health white paper ‘healthy lives, healthy people’ (published last year) recognised the importance of the quality of the environment within which people live to their physical and mental health.
This view was significantly reinforced this week, with the publication of the outcome of a recent consultation led by the Office of National Statistics, on developing an index of happiness and well-being to sit alongside existing measures such as GDP. One of the most striking findings, and something which was picked up in Tuesday’s Sky News paper review, was that access to green space is one of the most important factors in shaping people’s happiness.
Indeed as the report noted, in terms of environmental concerns this ranked higher than wider concerns around climate change. We responded to the consultation and placed strong emphasis on the use of our ‘Space for People‘ research, and in particular our Woodland Access Standard as a key tool for policy makers.
Now that the people have spoken we hope that the Government will act upon it – both in terms of drawing up the set of indicators on well-being measurement and also in wider policy making. In particular it should influence the conclusions of the Independent Panel on Forestry, providing a clear steer that the people want to see good accessible green spaces such as new woods close to where they live. This is a clear message about what woods and trees can do for society!
James Cooper, Head of Government Affairs