Moos’ Blog

Bio­di­ver­sity Counts!
Obser­va­tions and opin­ions con­cern­ing zoos, evo­lu­tion, nature con­ser­va­tion and the way we treat/​support the ecosys­tems which are sup­posed to serve us.


Forests can heal

pub­lished 24 July 2012 | mod­i­fied 18 Decem­ber 2016

As forests have always been my favourite place for leisure time, I should have known. Forests, and other nat­ural, green set­tings, can reduce stress, improve moods, reduce anger and aggres­sive­ness and increase over­all hap­pi­ness. And it can be mea­sured objec­tively accord­ing to Dr. Eeva Kar­jalainen of the Finnish For­est Research Insti­tute, Metla in Sci­enceDaily of 27 July 2010. Blood pres­sure, heart rate, mus­cle ten­sion and the level of stress hor­mones all decrease faster in nat­ural set­tings. That is a big relief after all the wor­ri­some news lately about all the threats to human health that forests har­bour. Like ticks that can trans­mit Bor­re­lia burgdor­feri, the bac­te­ria that causes Lyme dis­ease, or voles that can trans­mit Hanta virus, of which some can be mor­tal for humans.

Another ben­e­fit of forests is the com­pounds they pro­vide us with to make ther­a­peu­tic drugs. So, per­haps it is pos­si­ble that there is enough sci­en­tific evi­dence to proof that forests’ health ben­e­fits out­weigh their risks. And per­haps this will lead to physi­cians pre­scrib­ing for­est vis­its as a cure. The fun­da­ments are being explored already with the draft­ing of the Health Impact Assess­ments in for­est con­text by the ‘forHealth’ task force. More about the task force to be found here.So far for my igno­rance on the heal­ing effects of forests.

Just recently some addi­tional proof has been pub­lished in the Amer­i­can Jour­nal of Pre­ven­tive Med­i­cine. In a study of the USDA For­est Ser­vice the pres­ence of trees was asso­ci­ated with human health. In an analy­sis of 18 years of data from 1,296 coun­ties in 15 states, researchers found that Amer­i­cans liv­ing in areas infested by the emer­ald ash borer, a bee­tle that kills ash trees, suf­fered from an addi­tional 15,000 deaths from car­dio­vas­cu­lar dis­ease and 6,000 more deaths from lower res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease when com­pared to unin­fected areas. When emer­ald ash borer comes into a com­mu­nity, city streets lined with ash trees become tree­less. Although the study shows the asso­ci­a­tion between loss of trees and human mor­tal­ity from car­dio­vas­cu­lar and lower res­pi­ra­tory dis­ease, it did not prove a causal link. The rea­son for the asso­ci­a­tion is yet to be determined.

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