Donovan and colleagues link increased numbers of trees in an area and lower death rates there. They share that they “used a natural experiment to assess the impact of 30 years of tree planting . . . on non-accidental, cardiovascular, lower-respiratory, and accidental mortality in Portland, Oregon. . . . Each tree planted in the preceding 15 years was associated with significant reductions in non-accidental . . . and cardiovascular mortality. . . .
Barron and Rugel argue that greenspace planning needs to better reflect the usage-related needs of young adults. The pair state that “The voices of young adults (15−24) ring faintly in the conversation around nature-based solutions (NBS). . . . NBS clearly shape young adults — including their connections with nature, engagement in pro-environmental behaviours, and social and psychological health — but the dramatic reshaping of urban areas via rapid growth, densification, and technological innovation means today’s young adults have fewer opportunities to benefit from NBS.
Making place matter more
Ogletree and colleagues found lower crime levels in areas near greenspaces. They report that they “investigate[d] the relationship between different types of crime and urban greenspace in 59,703 census block groups within the 301 largest cities in the United States. After accounting for . . . demographic, socioeconomic, and climate variables, we found that, on average, census block groups with more greenspace . . . had lower risk of both property [for example, arson, vandalism, and burglary]. . . and violent crime. . . .
Sudimac, Sale, and Kuhn confirm the value of taking walks in natural areas. They share that they “conducted an intervention study to investigate changes in stress-related brain regions as an effect of a one-hour walk in an urban (busy street) vs. natural environment (forest). . . . findings reveal that amygdala [the amygdala is involved in stress processing] activation decreases after the walk in nature, whereas it remains stable after the walk in an urban environment. These results suggest that going for a walk in nature . . .
Harmon and Kyle studied how natural spaces can support people diagnosed with cancer. They share that they “sought to explore how those diagnosed with cancer use natural spaces as a supportive resource in their healing process. . . . the profound benefit of repeated exposure to restorative natural environments for those diagnosed with cancer establishes how natural spaces become places of healing for people with serious illnesses.”
Sun and colleagues studied the experiences of pregnant people in green spaces. They had “pregnant women between 8 and 14 weeks’ gestational age . . . view one of three, 5-min, VR [virtual reality] videos of an urban scene with different green space levels (i.e., non-green, moderate, and high) after a laboratory stressor, the Trier Social Stress Test. . . . We found that visual exposure to a green space environment in VR was associated with both physiological and affective [mood] stress reduction among pregnant women, including lower systolic blood pressure . . .
Park, Kim, Lee, and Heo studied how thoughts about nature evolved during the COVID-19 pandemic. They report that “This study provides a novel approach to understand human perception changes in their experiences of and interactions with public greenspaces during the early months of COVID-19. Using social media data and machine learning techniques, the study delivers new understandings of how people began to feel differently about their experiences compared to pre-COVID times.
Researchers have investigated the consequences of smelling the sorts of odors present in deserts when it rains. Nabhan, Daugherty, and Hartung found that “Desert dwellers know it well: the smell of rain and the feeling of euphoria that comes when a storm washes over the parched earth. That feeling, and the health benefits that come with it, may be the result of oils and other chemicals released by desert plants after a good soaking. . . .