Putting Down Roots: Bringing the Well-Being of the Forest into Our Homes

Spending time among the trees is an essential way to achieve this. From pumping oxygen to creating jobs, forests are essential for good health, improve our well-being and are a vital source of livelihoods around the world.

“Forest bathing,” as the Japanese call it, reduces cortisol, the stress hormone, leaving us feeling calm and relaxed. And research has shown that these visits to the woods have saved the NHS £185million each year in mental health treatment. But is it possible to bring some of the feel-good properties of wood to the real estate sector?

The price premium of wooded houses

Considering all its benefits, it’s perhaps no wonder that Britons are willing to pay a higher price for homes closer to such beneficial forest.

New research for the LRG Good Woods report reveals house prices in England and Wales are on average 6% higher in value thanks to their proximity to the woods. And it reaches even more than that in key areas: premiums of over 15% have been recorded in 12 local authority districts, including Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole; County Durham; and North East Lincolnshire.

The figures in the report confirm the common belief that buyers have developed a preference for green spaces and nature which has only increased since the onset of Covid. Importantly, research also shows that the price premium has increased by 2.4% since March 2020. Clearly, this demand has been spurred by the pandemic and will only continue to grow.

Finding That Woodland Home Is Harder Than You Think

However, the majority of residents, owners and tenants alike, do not have easy access to woodlands or forests. The report also shows that only half of households in England and Wales have access to at least two hectares of woodland within 500m of their home.

The UK is one of the least forested countries in Europe. According to the Woodland Trust, tree cover in the UK is well below the EU average, at 13% of land cover compared to 37%. Similarly, a study by the New Economics Foundation found that access to nature has declined over the past century: the median size of green space closest to developments built after 2000 is 40% larger smaller than the equivalent space near developments built in the 1930s.

This is already changing, both in response to changing attitudes towards well-being and nature, but also as a result of recent environmental law, which requires a gain net biodiversity of at least 10% on new developments from autumn 2023.

In this context, the clear preference of landowners for wooded sites should be seen as a call to action. Planners, developers and real estate agents need to consider consumer demand for wood and wellbeing as they understand the complex impact of the pandemic and how it will shape our lives for years to come. .

The neighborhood 15 minutes away

In order to bring homes and workspaces closer to the beneficial woodland, planners and developers should consider the “15-Minute Neighborhood.”

A concept founded at the Sorbonne, it does what it says on the tin – every facility a citizen would need to access is 15 minutes or less by walk, bike or public transport from their front door. ‘hall.

These areas are already popular in the Netherlands, and in a few years we could see a major global city transform. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo aims to develop a 15-minute city, where most people’s daily needs are within easy walking, cycling or public transport distance.

The immediate proximity of green spaces for leisure and recreation can ensure that any residential development – ​​urban or rural – can benefit well-being. So not only would it make life easier, more restful and encourage activity, but it could also reduce carbon emissions, with less time spent in cars. And, of course, it has the potential to support wellbeing, community cohesion, and greater access to nature.

Green the city

There are even small steps developers and local communities can take today to improve the well-being of their cities. Urban greening can also help transform urban areas into environments that benefit people and nature.

Along with ideas like the Neighborhood 15 Minutes Away and Reforesting the Nation, bringing pockets of greenery to our urban sites restores the natural world and brings people closer to nature. Across the UK, 70% of councils have deliberately stopped mowing to regenerate green space and encourage wildflower meadows, and more than 1,000 community gardens have sprung up to bring nature to old car parks, pavements and lanes.

Bringing our homes closer to the woods

Forestry England predicts that by 2050 almost 70% of the population will live in urban areas. Our social landscape is changing rapidly, and while city dwellers will always be able to escape the bustle for the serenity of the forest, we must also bring the forest to them.

The houses of the future must be surrounded by clean and green woods. Developers and town planners must therefore review their new housing models. It’s time to plan for future 15 minute neighborhoods in UK cities and invest in land close to woodlands to give residents access to much-needed woodlands and the vital health benefits they bring .

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