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Many people know a walk in the woods is priceless for their mental health but now a figure has been put on the value – £185 million a year.

With mental ill health issues increasing during the pandemic, the importance of going outdoors and exploring nature has grown.

Forest Research, the research arm of the Forestry Commission, say for the first time an amount has been calculated that shows how visits to woodland save the NHS money in treatment costs.

Urban trees essential

Based on evidence for reductions in anxiety and depression as a result of regular woodland visits, research funded by the Forestry Commission, Scottish Forestry and the Welsh Government estimates that annually £185 million is saved in costs associated with mental health illnesses.

This includes visits to GPs, drug prescriptions, inpatient care, social services and the number of days lost due to mental health issues.

Researchers say trees in urban streets are ‘essential’ for wellbeing and are worth £16 million in avoiding anti-depressant costs.

Looking ahead to the next 100 years, researchers believe the value of woodlands in saved mental health treatment costs will be more than £11 billion.

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