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Trees, Health and Wellbeing: Trees & Society session spotlight (part 7)

Author:  Arboricultural Association
Last Updated:  31/08/2021

Trees, Health and Wellbeing:
Trees & Society session spotlight (part 7)

The 54th Amenity Conference 2021

The 54th AA National Amenity Conference



6–7 September 2021

Win a free day at the 2022 Conference if you book by 31st August

The must-see event for anyone who works with, or is interested in, amenity trees.

The theme of Conference 2021 is Trees and Society, and seeks to explore this relationship in more depth through four sessions over two days.

Throughout the Tuesday afternoon session, we’ll hear about exciting new research into the characteristics of urban trees that are most valued by citizens, as well as how the benefits change before and after trees are removed from parks and streets.

Get yourself ready for the conference and enjoy part seven of our session preview below.


Trees, Health and Wellbeing
(Part 7)

Tuesday 7 September 2021 - Afternoon

Carys Alder

Carys Alder

Case Study: Planting ‘Healthy Air’ in London’s most polluted schools


This case study measures the effectiveness of trees and green infrastructure on reducing pollution in urban school playgrounds and through this identifies a replicable best practice approach.

Air pollution is a key public health issue in London, responsible for 9,500 premature deaths per year. Children are at increased risk because of their smaller lung capacity and proximity to exhaust fumes at street level. In 2017, 25% of all schools within London were identified as being in areas which exceed the annual mean NO2 EU limit, so there is urgent need to tackle the problem.

The Mayor of London’s Air Quality Audit (AQA) in 50 of London’s most polluted primary schools identified that ‘Playgrounds are often exposed - fronting onto busy roads with few barriers.’

A common recommendation was the introduction of green infrastructure in the form of green screening/climbers, trees and/or other planting.

This case study puts these recommendations into practice. Working with four London schools identified through the AQA, Trees for Cities, Lancaster University and Mapping for Change are assessing the effectiveness of these interventions to reduce children’s exposure to NO2 and PM2.5 levels within school playgrounds.

Starting in September 2019, activities included an initial analysis of each school’s pollution levels, outside space and use of space. Through a bespoke design, trees and green infrastructure were planted as a barrier to pollution. Schools undertake citizen science activities to monitor and track pollution, and participate in assemblies and planting days.

Measurements include NO2 and PM2.5 at a 3-month baseline and at intervals over 12 months and will also include subjective quality of life indicators measured through surveys.


opportunity for everyday access to nature.

Carys grew up in Wales before working in London as a Project Manager before joining Trees for Cities. She is passionate about the role that nature plays in children’s wellbeing and happiness.

Tom Ogren

Tom Ogren

Urban pollen and the public perception of trees: Creating People-friendly city landscapes


Both allergy and asthma continue to increase. Pollen allergy is now considered epidemic. It is getting worse every year.

Climate change and increases in carbon dioxide are making the pollen season longer, and much more intense.

Urban air pollution combines with airborne pollen, causing the grains to fracture. Particulates of pollen are extra allergenic, and because they’re so much smaller, they can be inhaled much deeper into the chest. This results in asthma.

We who plant and tend to city trees owe it to the citizens of our cities to be knowledgeable about tree/allergy issues. We need to know which trees to plant, and which to avoid. We need to know how to effectively prune city trees to limit pollen exposure. We also need to understand cultural methods that will limit pollen production.

All of this will be covered in my talk.


Tom Ogren, also publishes under the name Thomas Leo Ogren. He has studied and researched the connections between urban pollen production, city trees, and allergy for some thirty years.

Tom is a former nursery owner, landscaper, and horticulture teacher. He has an MS degree in horticulture and taught for 20 years. Tom is the author of three published books on the subject, and hundreds of papers. He has written for the New York Times, Scientific American, the New Scientist, Earth Island Journal, and others. He consults with the USDA urban forestry, the California Department of Public Health, and cities.

He has given successful, informative and energetic talks in New Zealand, Australia, Europe, Canada, the US, and Israel.

Mandy Cook

Mandy Cook

Adapting to change, emotional well-being and the role of trees, woodlands, and forests during the Coronavirus lockdown


This paper explores the role trees, woodlands, and forests played in people’s responses and reactions to the Covid-19 restrictions of 2020 and reports on the ways in which trees, woodlands, and forests contributed to people’s emotional well-being during the pandemic. Qualitative data from an online survey and telephone interviews is framed using the Kübler-Ross Change Curve (1969), a model often used to help explain and predict how individual people and organisations respond to dramatic change and perceived crisis (Malone, 2018; Dzhurova, 2020). The research was carried out as part of the Active Forests Programme funded by Forestry England and Sport England with support from the National Lottery.


Mandy is a Behavioural Scientist in the Social and Economic Research Group (Centre for Ecology, Society and Biosecurity) at Forest Research, UK. Mandy’s research interests focus on well-being and woodlands – including research on the health benefits of woodlands, social and cultural value of trees and woods, and impacts of education and learning in forest environments. Mandy holds a doctorate in Human Geography (funded by ESRC and the Scottish Government) exploring trees, woodlands, and forests as places of mental well-being for people living with dementia.