Street trees have major impact on health outcomes, study shows

Living on a tree-lined street could have the same impact on health as earning an extra £6,440 per year or being seven years younger, new research shows.

Image: MorgueFile
Image: MorgueFile
The study, published in online journal Scientific Reports, looked at data for residents of Toronto in Canada. It combined satellite imagery and tree data with questionnaire-based reports of general health perception, cardio-metabolic conditions and mental illnesses from the Ontario Health Study.

A research team led by Omid Kardan found those people living in neighborhoods with a higher density of trees on their street reported better health, even when controlling for socio-economic factors and demographics.

Researchers found the improvement in health perception from having 10 more trees on a block was equivalent to earning an extra $10,000 (£6,440) per year, being seven years younger or living in a neighbourhood where the median annual income was $10,000 higher.

It also found that having 11 more trees in a city block, on average, was correlated with an improvement in cardio-metabolic conditions in ways comparable to an increase in annual personal income of $20,000 (£12,880) or moving to a neighborhood with $20,000 higher median income or being 1.4 years younger.

The study specifically looked at tree canopy on streets, rather than other types of planting such street shrubbery or flowers.

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