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May 28, 2007

wilder parks are better for you

Posted in: behaviour,competition and performance,life the universe and everything,mood,recovery,stress,work-life balance

Today’s news from Bath is that it’s wet and windy out there — as is traditional for British Bank Holidays and school vacations. It looks like the walk to the park to play ball with the kids is off. Which is a shame, for more reasons than one.

Environmental psychologists have known for a while that green areas are psychologically good for us, helping us to recover from mental wear and tear. But now the good people at the universities of Sheffield and De Montfort, Leicester have found that some green spaces are better for us than others.

When it comes to urban green spaces, mental health benefits increase with the level of biodiversity, Dr Richard Fuller (Department of Animal & Plant Sciences, University of Sheffield) and colleagues have found. A green area rich in species is better for us than an equally green area with fewer species. And we seem to be pretty good at assessing how many kinds of species live in urban parks, just by looking at the plants.

The researchers point out that the world’s human population is increasingly concentrated in cities, isolated from nature. So perhaps we should now be investing the municipal parks manager with much higher importance. S/he is providing something of more profound human value than just pandering to preferences for busy lizzies or pansies. ;-)

Hat tip to The Situationist for alerting us to this story.

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