Surprising ways wood can improve your health and wellbeing

Apr 12 2021, 7:20 pm

Trees are the ultimate multi-taskers. On top of all the work they do keeping our planet a lush and liveable place for its many creatures, the benefits of trees transcend our many forests.

An abundance of emerging research actually shows trees experience a second life when their wood is incorporated into our buildings, furniture, and fixtures — leading to a slew of surprising mental health benefits for humans and the planet we call home.

When it comes to advancing the use of wood in green and clean building technology and pushing for nature-based solutions to climate change, Canada is at the forefront — after all, our sprawling country accounts for 40% of the world’s certified sustainably managed forests.

How wood improves overall human health

It seems like we expend so much energy trying to keep our homes insulated from nature, but now it’s time to bring nature indoors — especially as research shows just how healthy and happy it can make us. Often referred to as biophilia — which means ‘the love of living things’ — nature-centric design, using organic materials like wood, can strengthen our connection to nature and positively impact our wellbeing.

Because humans have an intrinsic desire to be connected to nature, the neurological, physiological, and psychological benefits of having it built into our environments can lead to lower stress, reduced blood pressure, better moods, and increased relaxation and concentration. At work, biophilic design means more productive employees, while in healthcare facilities it spells faster recovery and a better healing experience, according to a number of studies.

It certainly helps that wood is a versatile and durable natural resource that can be used broadly in a variety of different mediums — from sturdy roofs to coffee tables — while maintaining its sublime natural beauty and aesthetic appeal.

The use of wood and its impact on climate change

Samuel Brighouse Elementary School ( Latreille)

Mounting evidence suggests using wood as a primary construction material could be vital in combatting climate change. Many offices, hospitals, retail environments, and homes are opting to integrate wood and other natural materials into their design.

Creating a low carbon future doesn’t end with caring for our forests. While the importance of protecting and replenishing our precious woodlands shouldn’t be undermined, it’s just as critical that we benefit from the carbon storage capabilities of trees once they’ve been harvested.

When compared to alternative materials, like metal, cement, or plastic, sustainably sourced wood products are renewable, more eco-friendly, and have the capacity to absorb harmful carbon emissions. According to the Pacific Institute for Climate Solutions, best-case scenario modelling reveals that BC’s forestry sector alone could account for up to 35% of the province’s 2050 emissions reduction objective.

Canadian wood plays an important role in our future

Canada’s healthy and bountiful forests have a critical role to play in our global future. By taking a sustainable approach to forest management, our forests can be a natural solution to climate change and support our transition to a low-carbon society.

We’re a global leader when it comes to finding sustainable ways to use our forests and an important part of this means using long-life wood products to construct our buildings, infrastructure, and everyday furnishings. Wood products have an impressive capacity to store carbon and offset greenhouse gases — not to mention it has natural thermal benefits and the ability to absorb moisture and humidity.

We have so many reasons to feel proud of being at home in Canada — and responsibly managing our forests and sourcing wood is one of them. By continuing to leverage the positive impacts of incorporating natural materials into our increasingly urban lives, we can continue to illuminate the path towards climate-smart, health-focused practices.

Be proud when choosing to buy Canadian forest products. Every time you buy a wood product, you are making a climate-smart choice that’s good for your health, too.

To learn more about BC’s world-renowned forests and the role they play in our global future, you can visit naturally:wood’s website.

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