Your say / Trees

‘Trees are fundamental to the health and wellbeing of our communities’

By martin jones, Tuesday Dec 3, 2019

This National Tree Planting Week will see an incredible 1000 trees planted in Bristol, thanks primarily to the passion and dedication of Naseem Talukdar who organised community mass plantings at Southmead Hospital and Begbrook Park, Frenchay.

Having been involved with the Southmead Hospital redevelopment for over a decade, BDP’s landscape architects were also digging in at Southmead that same day.  Supplying and planting 17 specimen native trees, with the help and support of North Bristol NHS Trust and a small army of volunteers, we put the finishing touches to the recently completed Lime Tree Park.


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Also this week, BDP became the first Bristol business to sign up to the city’s exciting One Tree Per Employee which aims to grow a quarter of a million new trees in the city by 2030 BDP funded 70 trees, one for each of its Bristol-based staff.

But why? We all know about trees’ valiant role in improving air quality and the fight against climate change. But the roots of their power run much deeper. Trees, vegetation, and access to nature are fundamental to the health and wellbeing of every community – whether it’s a city or a village, business park or hospital.

Martin Jones (centre) and architects from BDP’s Bristol office took part in tree planting

The positive impacts of trees on both physical and mental health are now widely recognised. And in a healthcare environment trees and vegetation offer an even greater gift as a proven aid to recovery. As far back as 1984, a study showed that hospital patients with a view of greenery recover more rapidly and require less pain-killing medication than those who only have a view of buildings.

At last, trees and vegetation are no longer seen as a “nice to have” but are fundamental to successful placemaking and healthcare design. Not surprisingly, trees and planting are top of the list of desires from local communities as demonstrated in countless consultation and engagement processes. Green infrastructure is now an integral part of the design process and one that, as architects, we are increasingly assessed on – and rightly so.

With ever greater pressures on land and space, combined with an ageing population and increasing levels of medical care driving a need for new hospital facilities, vast swathes of green and pleasant lands are of course impossible to achieve, particularly in urban environments. Small plots of land can be put to surprisingly good use.

Naseem Talukdar (second from right) recently launched a scheme to increase the number of trees planted in the city

Our landscape concept for a secluded courtyard at Musgrove Park hospital in Taunton, draws inspiration from a ‘walk in the woods’ and the sense of relaxation and calmness you feel when you experience it. The thick tree canopy will offer shelter, privacy, a habitat for insects and wildlife and that all important view of nature through the overlooking windows.

Let’s not forget, even with breath-taking advances in medical science and increasing life expectancy, trees will outlive us as individuals.  We have a duty to protect what trees we have and increase tree coverage for the health and wellbeing of future generations.

Martin Jones is landscape and urbanism director in international architects BDP’s Bristol studio.

Read more: Ambitious scheme aims to plant 250,000 trees by 2030


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