Exposure to wood products and interiors could create similar health benefits to those created by spending time in nature, a new report commissioned by Planet Ark has found.

Released in the lead up to World Wood Day on Saturday March 21, the ‘Wood – Housing, Health, Humanity’ report explored numerous studies analysing the health and well-being benefits of wooden interiors in homes, businesses, and places of learning and healing.

“An increasing body of research is beginning to show that being surrounded by wood at home, work or school has positive effects on the body, the brain and the environment and can even shorten hospital stays through reduced recovery times,” said Chris Philpot, Make it Wood Campaign Manager at Planet Ark.

These trends are particularly important as increasing urbanisation means people have less access to nature in their daily lives – on average Australians spend over 90 per cent of their time indoors.

“The studies examining the effects of wooden rooms and furnishings clearly demonstrate that the presence of wood has positive physiological and psychological benefits that mimic the effect of spending time outside in nature,” Planet Ark said.

“The feelings of natural warmth and comfort that wood elicits in people has the effect of lowering blood pressure and heart rates, reducing stress and anxiety and increasing positive social interactions. Wood products within a room have also been shown to improve indoor air quality by moderating humidity.

“These benefits are particularly important for environments where it is difficult to incorporate nature indoors, such as hospitals where strict health guidelines may prevent the presence of plants, and office environments where views from the window are of roads and neighbouring concrete buildings.”

Already more architects designing buildings for healing, learning and relaxation are incorporating significant amounts of wood into their structures. This is supported by the results of an independent survey carried out by Planet Ark, which revealed that 96 per cent of Australian not only agreed that wood is visually appealing, but also appear to be innately drawn towards the material.

The test showed survey participants images of two rooms, one furnished with a wooden chair, desk, blinds and other items made from wood, while the other showed the same items made from plastic. Two out of every three people said they preferred the wooden room, despite being unaware of timber’s associated health benefits.

In addition to its health impacts, the use of responsibly sourced, certified wood leads to positive environmental outcomes and helps reduce climate change. However, only six out of ten survey participants understood that wood stores carbon and creates less carbon emissions during production than steel and concrete.

The full report can be accessed HERE.