Nature Nooks are more than just a pretty place

The Ottawa Carleton District School Board (OCDSB) is doing its part to promote a healthy and sustainable environment by planting trees and creating Nature Nooks at schools across Ottawa! In October 2021, shovels hit the ground at 30 OCDSB schools to make homes for 75 trees.

The Nature Nooks include a bench surrounded by native tree species, making them a perfect place for students to spend time with friends, relax, and reflect.

The Nature Nooks enhance the schools’ green spaces, which according to the American Psychological Association, can improve mental health and promote cognitive development in children. Spending time in nature, including parks and green spaces, is linked to cognitive benefits and improvements in mental health and emotional well-being. Check out this article to find out more about how we are nurtured by nature.

The OCDSB was happy to work with EnviroCentre to prepare some materials for schools to use to help students and families learn about the benefits of trees. Beyond promoting mental health and beautifying spaces, trees provide even more benefits for our community. Trees have an amazing ability to mitigate impacts on the environment and contribute toward improved water and air quality.  Here are some interesting facts about the power of trees and their environmental benefits:

Water Filtration – Trees absorb, filter, and allow rainwater to be kept on site. As a river city, slowing stormwater runoff from rushing into our waterways is an important step in reducing flooding and ensuring pollutants are filtered before they reach our delicate water-based ecosystems.

Improve Air Quality – Trees work hard every day to absorb carbon dioxide and pollutant gases through their leaves and bark. This improves air quality and reduces the amount of GHG released into our atmosphere.

Urban Cooling – As our urban hardscapes (buildings, pavement, etc…) continue to grow, heat islands are formed. Sun reflecting off buildings and pavement can increase urban temperatures by as much as 230C compared to surrounding greenspaces. Trees can help reduce the urban heat island effect by providing shade and releasing moisture into the atmosphere.

With so many benefits provided by trees, perhaps we should all follow OCDSB’s lead and consider building our own Nature Nooks at home, work, or school. 

Can you think of a place where you could plant a tree or two?

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