A myriad of research shows the health benefits of spending time in nature, but the COVID-19 quarantine has created a disconnection from green spaces for many people. To address this challenge, Baton Rouge Green, a nonprofit organization in Louisiana, started the #QuaranTREES campaign to let people know that they can benefit from green spaces without even stepping outside.
Reconnecting with Nature During COVID-19
“There’s a growing body of research that pushes the idea that simply viewing nature - even through a computer screen or a hand held photo - does wonders for your mental health,” Baton Rouge Green posted in April 2020 on its Instagram and Facebook accounts. It quoted an article from the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health: “Keeping a few snapshots of greenery around your work desk might not be a bad idea. When participants viewed the natural images in the experiment, their stress levels lowered, thanks to the activation of their parasympathetic nervous system - which controls certain rest functions.”
“While many of us don’t have access to yards, parks, or natural areas while under quarantine, simply viewing green spaces through a window or phone screen can reduce stress, hypertension, and more.” They encouraged their followers to post pictures of their own green scenes using the hashtag.
The responses were diverse and inspiring. One user posted a photo of a giant live oak with the caption, “Judging from the trunk's height we think the tree is over 1,000 years old.” Another shared a photo of his children’s tent: “The kids had a partly sunny camp out in the backyard, courtesy of a young oak.” Someone posted a photo of palm trees against cottonball clouds in a blue sky: “Love looking up at the trees and watching the birds enjoy this beautiful weather.” An image of an oak tree’s branches glimpsed through a small pair of windows showed that even small doses of nature can have significant benefits.
The #QuaranTREES campaign is the latest in Baton Rouge Green’s efforts to encourage stewardship of the environment and access to green spaces.The nonprofit, which a group of citizens founded in 1987 under the leadership of Dr. Jed Morris, works on restoring the urban canopy and greening the community in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Over 30+ years, they’ve helped kids plant trees in schools, cultivating urban orchards to provide citizens with citrus fruits, and maintaining trees along roadways and in underserved neighborhoods.