Proactive property companies embrace rewilding for happier, healthier homes

Newly released figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have highlighted the role that nature plays not just in promoting people’s mental health, but also in boosting their physical health.

Undertaken on behalf of the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, the research shows that the removal of pollutants from the air by plants resulted in 27,000 fewer life years lost, 1,900 fewer premature deaths and 1,300 fewer cardiovascular hospital admissions in 2015, saving more than £1 billion in healthcare costs over the course of the year.

Other studies have shown positive correlations between human health, intelligence and nature. Studies reveal that children are healthier, happier, and perhaps even smarter and more creative when they have a connection to nature.

Nature has positive effects on children with attention deficit disorder, asthma, and obesity, and being in nature relieves stress and improves physical health. The trend towards ‘forest school’ elements in nursery settings in the UK is evidence of these findings being embraced.

Nor is it just children who can benefit from connecting with nature, or ‘rewilding,’ as the process is becoming known. The desire to rewild is prevalent in tourism, especially at the higher end.

Eight years ago, 40% of tourist boards had adventure tourism as a standalone sector, now it’s up to 80%, according to Travel Weekly. At the super high-end of the tourism sector, holidaymakers are happy to part with thousands of pounds for a few days in the wilderness, where they can’t get mobile phone reception.

Interiors, too, reflect this trend towards rewilding. Adults who work in spaces incorporating nature into their design are more productive, healthy and creative; and hospital patients with a view of nature from their window heal faster.

James Fenner, founder and managing director of Silk Road, said:

“For the first time ever we’re an urban species. Over half the world’s population now lives in a concrete jungle and urbanisation is continuing to grip the globe.

“At the same time, we’re seeing a rise in mental health disorders and physical conditions such as obesity. Rewilding to our barest, basest selves is one way to combat this.”

According to NYU’s Langone Medical Center, the number of Americans suffering from serious mental health issues rose from below 3% in 2006 to 3.4% in 2014. Urbanisation can be seen as playing an important role in that increase. Rewilding and finding new ways to bring nature into our cities are essential if we are to reverse the trend.

Silk Road is working with property brands to find innovative ways to address this. The company’s research has found that more people want their homes connected to nature than technology. Nor is it just in the home – it’s also happening in the office. Google’s new HQ in London has a huge garden planned on the roof for employees to enjoy. The company is likely to benefit from happier, healthier staff as a result.

Fenner continued:

“Being close to nature is better for all of us and should be embraced at every opportunity. If not we’ll be surrounded by concrete and screens – Darwin would be appalled.”