We all know that plants provide the oxygen we breathe, but mounting research suggests that living near trees can actually make us healthier, happier, and live longer lives.

Research by Dave Norwak and associates found that the presence of trees decreases human mortality and acute respiratory illness, particularly in urban areas. Scientists speculate this is due to trees’ improvement of air quality through their removal of air pollution.

Another study by Donovan and colleagues examined human health effects related to the death of 100 million trees due to the invasive emerald ash borer. They observed increases in cardiovascular disease, lower-respiratory disease, and human mortality soon after the loss of these trees in fifteen states, suggesting yet another causal link between trees and human health.

Not only do trees improve our individual physical health, but our community well being as well. Studies conducted by a University of Illinois College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences (ACES) Team found that greener neighborhoods are associated with more socialization among neighbors and a stronger sense of community. They also found that homes with trees outside have fewer reports of violence.

Photo credit: Parade Magazine (parade.condenast.com) "Have You Hugged Your Trees Today"

Photo credit: Parade Magazine (parade.condenast.com) “Have You Hugged Your Trees Today”

Trees and forests provide habitat for numerous species, sequester carbon from the atmosphere, and help curb global warming.  That is more than enough reason to prioritize forest conservation and to protect and plant trees in our urban communities. Not only are trees vital to a healthy planet, but they are necessary for the well-being of humans in more ways than one.

Author: Claire Bailey