Landscape Insight December 2017 - Page 9

MONTH IN REVIEW HEALTH VOLUNTEERING IN NATURE HAS POSITIVE EFFECT ON MENTAL HEALTH, RESEARCH SHOWS NATURE 75% OF CITY DWELLERS ‘WANT MORE ACCESS TO GREENSPACE’ Almost three quarters of city dwellers want access to greenspace or parkland within walking distance from their home, a new survey suggests. Some 78% believe that trees are essential for relaxing and making them feeling happier, while a similar percentage cited their importance for health and removing air pollution. The survey was commissioned by the Woodland Trust and comes as it launches a nationwide ‘neighbourhood watch scheme’ for trees – to inspire city people to value and protect the natural wonders on their doorstep. Some 77% strongly agreed that they would miss trees and green spaces if they didn’t see them in their local urban area, so protecting what we already have is vital whereas 80% said that trees and woods give colour and texture to cities and towns. A further 51% said they would be extremely concerned and want to do something about it if street trees were removed. The Wildlife Trust has published a new report which examines the efects of volunteering in nature on people’s mental health. The study was carried out by the University of Essex and found that 95% of participants who were identiied as having poor levels of mental health at the start, reported an improvement in six weeks, which increased further over 12 weeks. The mental wellbeing of more than two-thirds (69%) of all participants had improved after just six weeks. Improvements were greatest for people new to volunteering with The Wildlife Trusts and those who had poor levels of mental health at the start. The study - The Health and Wellbeing Impacts of Volunteering with The Wildlife Trusts - was the third phase of scientiic research carried out by the University of Essex on behalf of the organisation. It assessed changes in 139 participants’ attitudes, behaviour and mental wellbeing over the course of 12 weeks during which they took part in nature conservation volunteering activities. Dominic Higgins, nature and wellbeing manager at The Wildlife Trusts, said: “The results of this structured research project make a powerful case for nature having a larger role in people’s everyday lives.” The results of this research makes a powerful case for nature having a larger role in people’s lives.’’ In numbers 100,000 that’s how many snowdrop bulbs Iverde planted for the Snowdrop Festival COUNCIL ASPIRE LANDSCAPE MANAGEMENT CELEBRATES ITS FIRST ANNIVERSARY Aspire Landscape Management, Ashford Borough Council’s in-house grounds maintenance service, has celebrated its one year anniversary. At the start of October 2016 the council brought the responsibility for grounds maintenance across the borough back in-house. The service covers the day-to- day work of mowing, pruning, planting, clearing and litter picking on various spaces owned by the council including open green space, parks, loral beds, cemeteries, areas around housing sites, hedges, sports pitches and associated footpaths. Cllr Clair Bell, said: “We are pleased with the impact Aspire has made on the borough’s presentation and the positive reaction from the community. “The in-house service has given us greater lexibility we as have been able to move resources where they are needed most and by enhancing Ashford’s overall appearance and attractiveness this has made the borough more attractive for residents, visitors and businesses.” Dominic Higgins, nature and wellbeing manager, The Wildlife Trusts December 2017 | Landscape Insight 9