Author: David Rowlinson
World Wood Day is a cultural event celebrated annually on the same day as the International Day of Forests. Its aim is to highlight wood as an eco-friendly and renewable biomaterial, and to raise awareness about the key role wood plays in a sustainable world through biodiversity and forest conservation. This unique celebration reminds us all of the importance and true value of wood and its responsible uses. World Wood Day was first celebrated in 2013 in Tanzania, and falls on the northern vernal equinox, March 21st, to symbolise the start of spring in the northern hemisphere.
To coincide with World Wood Day 2017 Planet Ark has completed a new report – Wood – Nature Inspired Design – which outlines the importance of connecting buildings with the natural world and how with 'nature connected design' (also called ‘biophilic design’) and using wood, we can bring nature indoors and provide a healthier, happier environment for all.
Over recent years there has been an increase in recognition about the benefits that humans gain from contact with trees and nature. Modern society has changed its relationship with nature. In the space of a single generation children’s play has moved from outdoors to indoors, the iconic backyard has shrunk, parents have become increasingly anxious about children’s safety, working hours and stress levels have risen and technology (especially screens) has encroached into almost all areas of life.
Increasing urbanisation rates mean that people have less access to nature in their daily lives and Australians on average now spend over 90 per cent of their time indoors. This disconnect with nature and the outdoors corresponds with reports of increasing levels of obesity and nearly half of Australians experiencing a mental health condition within their lifetime.
The health and happiness benefits associated with spending time in nature are well known and have been reported on by Planet Ark previously. This love of time in nature has been termed ‘biophilia’ and explains our innate need to connect with the natural world. This relationship can be extended into the built environment where we live, work, rest and play.
Research from the international scientific community has repeatedly identified that the increased use of wood in furniture, fittings and structures has measurable physiological and psychological health benefits. This is particularly relevant, as it is not always possible to increase our time spent outside, particularly in areas like workplaces, schools and hospitals. Understanding how to incorporate the benefits of nature into our indoor environments is an increasingly important area of research.
Responsibly sourced (and certified) timber has clear health and happiness benefits, as well as being a weapon in the struggle against climate change by both storing carbon and reducing carbon emissions.