Thanks to the efforts of researchers over the past few decades, we have a solid understanding of the ecological benefits of urban forests, such as reduced greenhouse gases, decreased stormwater runoff, and lessening of the urban heat island effect. In contrast, knowledge of the human health benefits of urban forests is still developing. Existing reviews of health benefits have focused more broadly on nature, green space, and greenness rather than concentrating specifically on urban trees.
To address this gap, a team of scientists reviewed the existing quantitative research on the relationships between urban trees and human health. Their findings were published last month in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health in the article Urban Trees and Human Health: A Scoping Review.
Continue reading “First comprehensive review of the health impacts of urban trees published”
By Kim Ballard, Outreach Coordinator, Project Canopy, Maine Forest Service
Credit: Kim Ballard
2020 has been quite the year already – from extreme weather to the pandemic to civil unrest, we could all use a break from stress and anxiety. As the days are now at their longest, and lots of sun is in the forecast, it is the PERFECT time to step outside and get some much deserved fresh air and exercise. Parks are open and trees are masters at lowering your heart rate, your blood pressure and cortisol (a stress hormone) levels in your bloodstream. Tree-lined paths are cooler than the asphalt sidewalk, contain less air pollution than shared bike lanes and likely even have less crime than neighborhoods with no tree canopy. And if you are anything like me, a quarantine-enhanced waistline could benefit from some exercise provided by a brisk walk outdoors. Any way you look at it, trees are really good for us. And some good news would be really welcome right now.
Continue reading “Trees bring good news for summer!”
By Patricia Lindquist, DNR urban forestry communications specialist, Madison, Patricia.Lindquist@wisconsin.gov, 608-843-6248
“What is it about this place?” I wondered. “Why does this city feel so harsh, so disheartening?”
Two hours earlier I had stepped off a train in Patna, India, and I’d been stuck in a massive traffic jam ever since. Honking cars, motorcycles, buses, bicycles, rickshaws, and livestock hemmed me in, but after nearly two months in India, this was nothing new.
Rup, my husband at the time (we are now divorced) is from Calcutta, and I’d grown to love his hometown. Despite the massive cultural differences and sheer size of the city (population: 14 million), I’d warmed up to the place immediately. Calcutta felt welcoming from the moment I arrived; Patna did not. After only two hours in Patna, my nerves were frazzled, I had a headache, and I just wanted to escape.
Continue reading “Reflections from my travels in India: the health benefits of trees”
By Olivia Witthun, DNR regional urban forestry coordinator, Plymouth, Olivia.Witthun@wisconsin.gov, 414-750-8744
Are you going stir-crazy stuck inside your house or apartment? Take a visit to the forest outside your door! Step outside to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the trees and nature around you. It’s good for your mind, body and soul. Research shows exposure to nature reduces depression, anxiety and stress! Plus, we all know physical activity keeps your body healthy and boosts your mood.
Eighty percent of American adults are afflicted by stress. Forty million are affected by anxiety disorders, and nearly sixteen million experience major depression each year. If you live in the city, those numbers are even higher. Urban dwellers have a 20% higher risk for developing anxiety disorders, 40% for mood disorders and double for schizophrenia. Stress has become a constant in people’s everyday lives, and the COVID-19 just adds even more. The cumulative effects of chronic stress can have serious health consequences over time, including: depression, anxiety, heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain and type 2 diabetes.
Continue reading “Visit the forest outside your door”
Looking for some hard numbers on how urban trees affect health conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease, obesity, and ADHD?
Click on the links below to read the original research studies:
• An increase of 888 street trees per square mile is associated with a 29% lower rate of childhood asthma. Children Living in Areas with More Street Trees Have Lower Prevalence of Asthma, 2008.
• Loss of trees to the emerald ash borer is associated with an additional 15,080 deaths from cardiovascular disease and 6113 deaths from lower respiratory disease during the study period (1990- 2007). The Relationship Between Trees and Human Health: Evidence from the Spread of the Emerald Ash Borer, 2013.
Continue reading “From asthma to ADHD: statistics on the health benefits of trees”
Now more than ever, trees and forests are a vital component of healthy, livable, and sustainable communities, in the U.S. and around the globe. Along with its partners such as the Wisconsin DNR, the Arbor Day Foundation is seeking ways to link together those that plant and tend urban trees and forests for the benefit of humankind.
In 2019, the Foundation launched three new recognition programs to appeal to three different audiences, three different owners and managers of urban greenspace:
Continue reading “Arbor Day Foundation launches three new recognition programs”
Vibrant cities cultivate thriving urban forests that boost public health, safety, sustainability and economic growth. A city’s green infrastructure — trees, vegetation and water — is just as important as its roads, pipes and power lines. Continue reading “Vibrant Cities Lab”
Wisconsin Active Together names three new communities! Check out their work to advance strategies for safe places to walk, bike and be active! Continue reading “Wisconsin Active Together recognizes new communities”
Whether it be a hike through the woods, time spent with your family at a local park or sitting beneath the shade of that stately red oak in your backyard, we, as urban forestry professionals and enthusiasts, experience and recognize the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of spending time outdoors in nature.
For decades, scientists have been researching and documenting the health benefits that trees and nature provide, and as urban populations continue to rise, the impact of nearby nature on human health has generated a lot of interest in our world of urban and community forestry.
To further that conversation in Wisconsin, the first ever ‘Good Health Grows on Trees: The Influence of Nearby Nature on Public Health’ conference was hosted by the DNR Urban Forestry program at the Rotary Botanical Gardens in Janesville on May 30th. Continue reading “Inaugural ‘Good Health Grows on Trees’ conference a success!”
May is National Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. Did you know trees help prevent asthma and other respiratory diseases? Trees filter particles out of the air we breathe, which decreases our risk of respiratory illnesses, including asthma. One study found that in 2010, trees removed 17.4 million tons of air pollution across the US, which prevented 850 human deaths and 670,000 cases of acute respiratory symptoms. Continue reading “Trees clean the air and prevent respiratory illness”