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Beyond these more obvious benefits, a growing body of scientific evidence suggests contact with nature provides a multitude of health benefits.

Close proximity to natural areas provides a positive emotional experience that has been shown to speed up recovery time for hospitalized patients, motivate healthy behaviors like exercise, and improve or sustain mental health.

In a study in Philadelphia, vacant lots—which are often associated with illegal activity—were cleaned of trash and illegal dumping, planted with grass and trees, and had a small wooden fence built around the perimeter.

The greening activity was associated with reductions in violent crimes and improvements in residents' perceptions of safety.

For instance, we are safer when rivers have more room during floods and floodwaters can disperse and slow down rather than rise, rage and threaten communities.

Along our coasts, natural features like sand dunes and marshes or coral reefs and oyster reefs reduce wave heights, absorb storm surges and help stop erosion.

The presence of nearby natural areas and green spaces appears to strengthen social ties among neighbors by encouraging the use of common spaces.

We should let nature do its very best job for us.” “There is a recognition that the project will save property, it’ll save homes, it’ll save businesses.A related study in Philadelphia found study participants who walked by a ‘greened’ vacant lot showed decreased heart rate, a sign of reduced stress, compared to a control group.The trees and vegetation in natural areas and green spaces improve water quality and air quality, particularly in larger cities, which has been connected to lower rates of asthma and wheezing in urban populations.And green streetscapes encourage active modes of transport, such as walking or cycling.Also important, tree canopies and urban green spaces have shown a significant cooling effect in cities, which reduces energy demands for air conditioning and lowers local emissions.

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