Yesterday the route my dog Trixie and I found the route we had planned for our afternoon walk was blocked by warning ribbons – a team of tree surgeons was busily taking down high branches from an avenue of ancient beech trees. We have had a number of branch falls from trees in our nearby park this year and there was a fatality and serious injury when a large branch fell on two friends walking beside the Bridgewater Canal in Sale. This has made people more aware and sensitive to the possible hazards associated with trees.
We trust that the tree surgeons’ work will be expert and well-informed. We want safety, but we grieve the loss of every mature tree.
Trees are beautiful company – and improve life wherever they go: Tree health resilience strategy (publishing.service.gov.uk)
While billions of pounds are being spent on research into hi-tech approaches to understand and treat illnesses, including dementia, there is a wealth of evidence that the natural world, particularly proximity to trees, is health promoting – giving benefits to individuals, families and the wider economy:
Woods and forests have special appeal, but even single trees and small clumps are associated with improved feelings of well-being, health and ability to look after ourselves: A UK tree provides hundreds of pounds of benefits a year, report finds | Trees and forests | The Guardian
Amazingly we have learned that living beneath or near trees reduces the likelihood of developing dementia: Urban green space, tree canopy and 11-year risk of dementia in a cohort of 109,688 Australians - ScienceDirect
People who know trees most intimately see models of care exhibited by tree populations which can be translated into ways of caring for our own who become frail and impaired: As a tree ages- and trees have a life story, will age and will die – the younger trees around it offer support through the exchange of fluids and gases: A whole system response which we do well to follow. It does not turn away from the vulnerable, nor set them in ghettos, but cares for them where they have been living: What Trees Can Teach Us About Dementia Caregiving - Balance (promedicaseniorcare.org)
The benefits of nature to all of us, but especially to people with dementia and their families are known and can be acted upon- there are some well-recognised initiatives which show the way: Dementia Naturally Active | City of Trees
But we do need a communal understanding of what makes for a good and healthy life, including those of us with dementia – and engineering of our environment to reduce the incidence of illness and to live better when we do become ill and impaired. That’s for politicians to take on board. For the rest of us – Love our trees – in woods, forests, parks and down the street. Try to be sure they are respected and not swept away by over-enthusiastic pruners.