Boston University has recently released a series of papers revealing the benefits of greenery on mental and physical health. Previous studies have concluded that spending time in greenery reduces the risk of dementia and boosts cognitive function.
Their most recent study is focussing on how increasing green vegetation in urban areas may substantially reduce mortality rates. Based on data from 2000 to 2019, the group found that around 34,000-38,000 deaths could have been prevented in large metropolitan areas if more green spaces were provided.
The group utilized publicly available population data from the US Census, mortality data from the Centers for Disease Control WONDER system, and greenness data from NASA’s Landsat satellites. By comparing mortality with the amount of greenery, they found a correlation between more green spaces and lower death rates.
“We’ve known that living in greener areas can have a positive impact on our physical and mental health, but there is a lack of data on how changes in greenness distribution can affect death rates across the country,” says study lead author Paige Brochu.
They continued: “Our study quantifies the impact of greenness expansion in urban areas and shows how increasing green vegetation could potentially add to a person’s life expectancy. Policymakers and urban planners can use this information to support local climate action plans and ensure that those plans include greening initiatives.”
The study also showed that green space is on the rise, with overall greenness in metro areas increasing in the past 20 years by nearly 3 percent between 2000-2010 and 11 percent between 2010-2019. Hopefully, studies like this will continue to inspire local governments to introduce more vegetation in urban areas and improve the health of those living there.
Source study: Frontiers in Public Health – Benefits of Increasing Greenness on All-Cause Mortality in the Largest Metropolitan Areas of the United States Within the Past Two Decades