• Plants saved more than £1 billion in healthcare costs in 2015 (ONS)
  • 80% of tourist boards now promote adventure tourism as a standalone sector (Travel Weekly)
  • More people want homes connected to nature than technology (Silk Road)
Plants help our physical and mental health

Newly released figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have highlighted the role that nature plays, not just in promoting people’s mental health, but also in boosting their physical health. Undertaken on behalf of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the research shows that the removal of pollutants from the air by plants resulted in 27,000 fewer life years lost, 1,900 fewer premature deaths and 1,300 fewer cardiovascular hospital admissions in 2015, saving more than £1 billion in healthcare costs over the course of the year.

Other studies have shown positive correlations between human health, intelligence and nature. Studies reveal that children are healthier, happier, and perhaps even smarter and more creative when they have a connection to nature. In addition, nature has positive effects on children with attention deficit disorder, asthma, and obesity, and being in nature relieves stress and improves physical health. The trend towards ‘forest school’ elements in nursery settings in the UK is evidence of these findings being embraced.

Adventure tourism

Nor is it just children who can benefit from connecting with nature, or ‘re-wilding,’ as the process is becoming known. The desire to re-wild is prevalent in tourism, especially at the higher end. Eight years ago, 40 per cent of tourist boards had adventure tourism as a standalone sector, now it’s up to 80 per cent, according to Travel Weekly. At the super high-end of the tourism sector, holidaymakers are happy to part with thousands of pounds for a few days in the wilderness, where they can’t get mobile phone reception.

Silk Road has found that more people want their homes connected to nature than technology

Interiors, too, reflect this trend towards re-wilding. Adults who work in spaces incorporating nature into their design are more productive, healthy and creative; and hospital patients with a view of nature from their window heal faster.

“For the first-time ever we’re an urban species. Over half the world’s population now lives in a concrete jungle and urbanisation is continuing to grip the globe,” explained James Fenner, Founder and MD of Silk Road. “At the same time, we’re seeing a rise in mental health disorders and physical conditions such as obesity. Re-wilding to our barest, basest selves is one way to combat this.”

According to NYU’s Langone Medical Center, the number of Americans suffering from serious mental health issues rose from below three per cent in 2006 to 3.4 per cent in 2014. Urbanisation can be seen as playing an important role in that increase. Re-wilding and finding new ways to bring nature into our cities are essential if we are to reverse the trend.

Silk Road is working with property brands to find innovative ways to address this. The company’s research has found that more people want their homes connected to nature than technology. Nor is it just in the home – it’s also happening in the office. Google’s new HQ in London has a huge garden planned on the roof for employees to enjoy. The company is likely to benefit from happier, healthier staff as a result.

James Fenner added: “Being close to nature is better for all of us and should be embraced at every opportunity. If not we’ll be surrounded by concrete and screens – Darwin would be appalled”

For more information, go on-line at: www.wearesilkroad.com