The 3-30-300 rule
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What if a rule governing trees, parks and green space was the key to happiness? So suggests a study conducted by the Barcelona Institute for Global Health. After interviewing more than 3,000 people living in Barcelona, they found that the people who lived closest to green spaces were also those whose mental health was least impacted.
To reach this conclusion, the authors of the study used the '3-30-300' rule. Theorized by Spanish forest researcher Cecil Konijnendijk in 2021, this rule is based on the following principle: see three trees from your home, live in a neighborhood with at least 30% tree canopy cover, and live within 300 meters of a green space, such as a park or a forest.
Of the sample of people involved in the study, only 4.7% had the privilege of living in a place that met all three criteria. And, it is precisely this share of individuals who had the best mental health. Conversely, 22% of those surveyed lived somewhere meeting none of the three criteria. "There is an urgent need to provide citizens with more green space.
We may need to tear out asphalt and plant more trees, which would not only improve health, but also reduce heat island effects and contribute to carbon capture. Any initiative that leads to a greener city will be a step forward. The key message is that we need more and faster greening," explains study lead author, Mark Nieuwenhuijsen.
Whether for easing loneliness, promoting conviviality or relieving stress, research highlighting the benefits of regular contact with nature on our physical and mental health is legion. If you live in the city and your home is unfortunately not located in an area that complies with the '3-30-300' rule, it could be beneficial to take regular walks in the nearest park, or even to indulge in a forest bath!
green space - an area that is only for nature, like a park or forest
heat island - the effect of areas of cities being hotter than the surrounding country
conviviality - friendliness
forest bath - to spend time in nature
tear out - to remove
Privilege - fortune, to be in a good situation
tree canopy cover - the shade provided by trees