In a new study published by Forest Research, the link between mental health and woodlands has been explored.
The pandemic proved the importance of local access to trees, woods, forests and other natural environments to maintain well being. This study found that the estimated value of woodlands on mental health in the UK was £185 million, in terms of the avoided costs such as reductions in GP visits, drug prescriptions, inpatient care, social services and in the number of days lost at work from mental health issues.
With the figures based on population size, woodland recreation is estimated to have saved £141 million in England in treating mental ill-health, £26 million in Scotland, £13 million in Wales and £6 million in Northern Ireland. These values are based on evidence of the reduced incidence of depression and anxiety as a result of regular visits to nature.
Scotland’s Environment Minister, Màiri McAllan, said:
“Scotland’s forests and woodlands offer so many environmental, social and economic benefits to society. During Covid-19 pandemic, access to woodlands has become even more important to individuals in supporting and maintaining their well-being.
It is widely recognised that spending time in woodlands can have a positive effect on alleviating conditions such as depression and anxiety. This study is important because we now have a clear monetary value on how much our woodland resource could be worth in tackling poor mental health.”
This study was commissioned by Scottish Forestry, the Welsh Government and the Forestry Commission in England.Read full report