We need trees to survive, Malta Chamber of Psychologists insists

The Malta Chamber of Psychologists and Malta Association of Social Workers said that the "fundamental truth" was that "we need trees to survive"

"Trees are an integral component in the sustenance of our own mental health, with a body of research supporting the outcome that people surrounded by greenery and nature suffer from less stress"

Trees are fundamental for human survival, both “physically and psychologically”, the Malta Chamber of Psychologists and Malta Association of Social Workers have said.

For many Maltese, thinking about nature included childhood memories of Gozo, or at Chadwick Lakes or Buskett, the Chamber's statement read. “Those who have the possibility to travel reminisce about the English or Italian country-side: animal’s grazing, beautiful lakes, rivers, mountains,” they said.   

The Chamber said the common denomination in all of those scenes were trees.

“The cutting down of trees locally has quickly developed into a sociopolitical debate but the fundamental truth is that we need trees to survive – both physically and psychologically.”

It said that research has shown that nature has a “vitalising effect” on people, making them prone to describing themselves as feeling “more alive” than when not in nature.

“Trees not only offer shade from the scorching sun, the global leading cause of skin cancer, as well as improving air quality by absorbing harmful particles which are known to cause many respiratory conditions, such as asthma and other chronic, even terminal diseases, but  are an integral component in the sustenance of our own mental health, with a body of research supporting the outcome that people surrounded by greenery and nature suffer from less stress (even physiologically as pulse and muscle tension reduce), less anxiety, and are less likely to suffer from mental ill-health and depression,” the statement read.

The chamber also said that greenery was also synonymous with “morale, motivation and recovery,” and that green views have helped people feel less physical pain due to “endorphin production, as well as aiding them to recover more rapidly from their ailments.”     

“We also need to consider that with the presence of green spaces, people are more inclined to exercise, thus reducing obesity – as well as meeting up with family and friends.” The chamber said that these activities in their very nature are known to “improve the holistic sense of wellbeing in the whole community by increasing endorphin production, improving memory and cognitive function, as well as reducing loneliness and isolation, which are other contributing factors to chronic depression.”

The Chamber said it was important not to underestimate the power that nature has in positively influencing persons mental state, as well as their overall social well being. “All of this research is further supported by studies which show that living in an area with more green space correlates with lower cortisol levels; the primary stress hormone.” It highlighted that apart from that, spending time out in nature has also shown to improve creativity.

“It is therefore clear that the increasing degeneration of trees and greenery in our local environment has a negative impact on our overall sense of health and well-being. Therefore and essentially, the whole debate should not only be about safeguarding the environment but also about the preservation of public health in general, in a context of the creation of accessible public spaces for all."

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