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Tree-time boosts our health

Following on from his ‘Autumn Leaf Peeping’ interview, tree and woodland specialist Paul Rutter spoke to Kristina Thornton of BBC Radio Gloucestershire on 29th March, discussing how trees can improve our health and wellbeing whilst we are coping with isolation.

Paul explained how beneficial trees are to our mental health. We’ve lost touch with nature whilst living very busy, often stressed lives. Our DNA started in nature, it is not so long ago that we had lives more based in our landscape and nature.

Kristina asked what the benefits are of spending time with trees?

Paul says: 

“Trees are like a ‘chemical factory’, giving off good, volatile organic compounds that help us breathe better, reduce stress and boost our immune systems. Spending time near a tree, breathing in deeply is good for our health and this is backed up by science. Breathing in the aromas of trees and plants in our gardens will refresh and rejuvenate us. Our endorphin production is promoted when we do this, sometimes called ‘happy hormones’. “

Paul went on to confirm that his voluntary work he coordinates in the Forest of Dean for Foresters’ Forest is currently suspended due to the Coronavirus lockdown.  Recently, Paul was working with local volunteers on woodland tasks such as tree 'haloing' (see photos below). This work entails cutting down small trees below larger veteran tress to give the larger trees more space to grow.

In the meantime Paul encourages us to make spending time with trees, or ‘tree time’, part of our allowed daily exercise if we can. Find a tree in the time you have available to get some fresh air. We should use our eyes and sense of smell and spend time with an orchard tree, a tree in our garden or a large oak in forest or woodland within a short walk from our home.  Enjoying a walk whilst we do this will reduce our stress and remind us that perhaps the time we spend with machines and computers has left us forgetting our natural origins. We should try and get out into nature, if we can!

Thank you, Paul, for your words of inspiration! 

Share with us your stories and messages about how some time with trees, and getting back to nature, is helping you at this time?

Find out more about our Ancient and Notable Trees project that Paul leads here


COVID-19 safety questions you may have in relation to this activity:

Q: Can I drive to my local woodland to walk/walk the dog/go for a run/ride my bike?

A: No this is not essential travel.

Q: Can I use the forest for my daily exercise?

A: If you are lucky enough to live within walking distance of the Forest you can use your daily exercise to walk the dog, go for a walk or run or a gentle cycle with members of your household only. But please do so responsibly and following the latest government guidelines on social distancing.

For further current guidance please see:


Tree 'haloing' voluntary work, before and after photos, taken earlier this year: