Harrogate's Long Lands Commons project can boost mental health says nature site curator
The positive impact that plans to create Harrogate's first community-owned woodland would have on Harrogate and Knaresborough residents’ mental health has been highlighted by curator of Thorp Perrow Arboretum Faith Douglas.
According to the mental health charity Mind, one in four people in the UK experience a mental health problem annually, with one in six reporting a common mental health problem such as anxiety or depression in any given week.
In recent years, a significant amount of research has been undertaken on the lasting benefits to mental and physical health when people of all ages connect with the natural world. This includes time spent volunteering in the great outdoors.
Faith Douglasm curator at Thorp Perrow's beautiful gardens and arboretum at Bedale, said: “Community woodlands like Harrogate's Long Lands Common are more vital than ever. They are needed for all generations and for generations to come. They provide health and respite from our chaotic world, especially during these times when stress and anxiety are at an all time high for all ages.
"People’s mental health is so important because with a healthy mind comes a healthy body.
“Trees are amazing for our wellbeing. Not only do they produce oxygen for us to breathe, food for us to eat and medicine to cure ailments, they also release oils that have a direct effect on our nervous system when we inhale them.
"Studies have found that everyone can benefit from these immune boosting oils. Our heart rate slows, our blood pressure drops and our stress levels are balanced.
"People report that they feel calmer, sleep better and those recovering from illness or injury recover more effectively. Individuals who suffer from mood disorders such as depression find balance. It really doesn’t matter what your age is or your health status, everyone will find a boost to their overall health, wellbeing and quality of life.
“My message to the people of Harrogate and Knaresborough, who are thinking about supporting the creation of a community owned woodland, is to see this project as an investment; an investment into the natural world that supports our very existence and an investment into ourselves and the people we care about.”
Trees will be planted over large areas of the 30 acre site, including a children’s wood. The vision for Long Lands Common is also to have open areas of grassland, wildflower meadows, verges and thickets of thorny scrub and marshy areas and ponds, because this will provide a much richer home for a wide range of animal and plant life.
Spearheading the project is local residents’ group Nidd Gorge Community Action which from 2016-2019 successfully fought proposals to build a major ‘relief road’ east of Harrogate.
To make its plan a reality for local people and future generations, the group needs to raise £300,000 by November in order to purchase the land situated between Harrogate and Knaresborough, through the selling of community shares.
The site borders the Nidderdale Greenway close to its starting point at The Avenue, Starbeck and the Bilton Triangle.
Residents are asked to register their interest in becoming shareholders, which includes planting trees, at www.longlandscommon.org/copy-of-pledge-to-buy-a-share
The minimum investment is £50 and no money is being taken at this time. Those residents who do not use the internet can ask a friend or relative to register on their behalf.
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