Nature4Health aims to use trees and the natural environment to boost people’s health. It’s part of The Mersey Forest’s ongoing work to promote the strong link between our local green spaces and the health of our communities.
Trees and woodlands are vital for our physical and mental health and wellbeing. And healthier, happier people mean that there are reduced costs to the health care system and the wider economy.
The annual cost of ill-health in Liverpool City Region is £2 billion. Urban forests and green space provides: physical benefits associated with obesity, life expectancy, heart rate and blood pressure; attention and cognitive benefits associated with restoration, mood and self-esteem; physical activity benefits associated with use of trees and woods; self-reported benefits in terms of health and life satisfaction; and community cohesion benefits through social contact fostered by trees, woods and forests.
Whilst there is good evidence to show that greener environments support more active lifestyles, the evidence for a positive impact on mental health is even stronger.
The Mersey Forest works with the health sector to support the use, referral, and prescription of activities within woodlands – our “Natural Health Service” – as an alternative to, or in combination with, medication for both physical and mental health improvements. The evidence gathered through the evaluation of ‘Nature4Health’ will help build the case for this type of work to become a mainstream part of future health provision.