Here in this blog we quote an AMAZING article of what many hikers and park visitors know intuitively - here it is in dollars and cents for cities and governments a GREAT reason to allocate more funding to these LIVING resources that share their HARMONY with all of us.
Note that visits last year to US National parks was over 300 million and to El Yunque before Maria it was about 3 million per year.
From the results of the three surveys, they estimated that national park use was correlated with a boost in wellbeing of 2.5 percent...Scaling that up globally, they found that a conservative estimate of that benefit is $6 trillion … In another, nature walks improved memory and mood in people with major depression.
Article quoted in full:
How nature saves us trillions of dollars in health care
But these benefits can be somewhat abstract, even if we know they exist, and that can make it challenging to argue for investing in nature itself.
Of course, the results are still based on correlation, and it could be that people who visit parks are happier for other reasons. But Buckley says that because their sample was large and representative of the Australian population, and with 19,674 respondents they were able to find a clear signal for national park benefits (they even controlled for non-park green space use).
Then, by applying a monetary value to the park-going populations’ increase in quality of life, they estimated that the mental health services of Australia’s national parks alone are worth $100 billion. Scaling that up globally, they found that a conservative estimate of that benefit is $6 trillion. “If parks didn’t exist and people couldn’t visit parks, then the costs of poor mental health to our society would be much bigger,”says Buckley.
He adds that U.S. park goers could bring in even greater benefits than those in Australia, because parks in the States get tons of visitors and per capita health care costs are high. Meanwhile, the national park system has a nearly $12 billion backlog in needed maintenance. “And that sounds like a lot of money,” says Buckley. “But it’s very small compared to the gains that could be achieved through improved mental health.”
“This new knowledge essentially should influence how governments perceive budget allocations to parks … you're actually getting a very good return on investment in reduced health care costs,” adds Buckley. “And that means you should give parks bigger budgets. We definitely think that.”
Numerous studies have shown how nature eases anxiety, depression, and other ailments. In one study, subjects watched a “stressful movie,” and then watched videos of natural and urban scenes afterward. Those who got the nature flicks recovered faster, an effect measured in their self-reports as well as in physiological qualities like blood pressure and muscle tension.
Buckley hopes that the medical system takes note of these benefits. While more and more doctors are prescribing nature, it’s not really accepted in the mainstream profession. But given the cost-effective healing powers of parks, Buckley says perhaps it should be. “I think we will see a gradual evolution of the health care sector where we will see professional practitioners able to provide nature therapies.”