One healthy way to put The Charter into practice
In our previous article, we took a look at what’s been going on in the Tree Warden Forums that’s run annually by The Tree Council, and in particular the workshop that explores The Charter for Trees, Woods and People.
In this article, we want to showcase how one aspect of this Charter inspired a new project that’s already had lift off!
One of The Charter's ten principles, “Recover health, hope and wellbeing with the help of trees”, outlines our responsibilities towards trees from a health perspective. Developed from countless scientific studies, this principle recognises that trees are beneficial for human health. Research shows that chemicals called phytoncides are released by trees, and acts as their 'immune system' by protecting them against bacterial and fungal infection. And, when humans breath in these phytoncides that have been released into the air, it has an effect on our health… a positive one.
Research has proven that by spending at least 30 minutes amongst trees in leaf boosts our own immune system and reduces our cortisol levels, a hormone released by adrenal glands when we suffer stress. Phytoncides from trees also lowers heart rate, has been shown to improve mood, and is beneficial for our nervous system. Spending over 2 hours with trees can make these benefits last up to 7 days. The results of this research is so significant that the Japanese Government has created over 40 wellbeing parks to practice the art of ‘forest bathing’, otherwise known as simply being with trees.
Coming back to our Tree Warden Forum workshop, two people in the group looking at this health-orientated Charter principle were, by serendipitous chance, from the medical profession.
Inspired directly by this principle, these Tree Wardens proposed that they would develop and produce a leaflet that outlines the important health benefits of trees and distribute them to their local hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.
Since the forum, this project has had lift off. Their idea was put forward to the members of Epping Forest District Tree Wardens at their next meeting where the proposal was accepted. Currently, the content of the leaflet is being developed, the design and printing undertaken by the Council, and the wider group of Tree Wardens are preparing to help with distribution.
This could hardly be a better example of how The Charter has not only inspired a new project and coordinated action, but also how yet again, the importance of trees shines through into yet another part of our lives.