Do trees keep humans healthy?
It might be time to get serious about planting a tree on Arbor Day. Research from the U.S Forest Service found that the mere presence of trees in an area could have a significant impact on the health of people in that area. How do they know? They looked at what happened to death rates when trees started to disappear.
For the last 18 years a beetle called the emerald ash borer has wiped out about 100 million trees across the country, mostly in Eastern and Midwest states. According to the Forest Service analysis, the areas that sustained the most tree loss saw about 15,000 more deaths from cardiovascular diseases and 6,000 more deaths from lower respiratory diseases, compared to areas that did not lose as many trees.
The findings themselves do not necessarily prove that it is the loss of trees that caused the increased mortality rates, rather than some other variable, such as education or income levels. But, according to researchers, “the same pattern [has been] repeated over and over in countries with very different demographic make-ups.”