Forests and Human Health June-18-2013

Selected Publications


Nerg A, Uusivuori J, Mikkola J,Neuvonen M, Sievänen T (2012) Visits to national parks and hiking areas: a panel data analysis of their socio-demographic, economic and site quality determinants. Tourism Economics, 18(1): 77-93.

This study examines the impacts of socio-demographic, economic and park quality determinants on visits to nature areas.  The authors apply panel data estimation techniques to Finnish data on 46 national parks and hiking areas between 2000 and 2008. The main results show that 'visits to nature areas' react positively to the population size and quality features but negatively to gasoline prices and income levels. Of the age classes studied, the population share of 'young retirees' - people aged between 65 and 74 - increased their number of visits to nature areas significantly, whereas the share of 'baby boomers' - people aged between 55 and 64 - was insignificant in explaining the number of visits. As the baby boomers are reaching retirement age, and assuming that their generation behaves like the young retirees in this study, the demand for national parks and hiking areas may increase substantially in the coming years. This will increase the pressure to expand current parks and establish new ones.

US Forest Service (2013) Tree and human health may be linked - A new release on 16th of January 2013 by the US Forest Service

Researchers have discovered in an analysis of 18 years of data from 1,296 counties in 15 states, 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 in comparison to uninfected areas. This study has demonstrated the association between loss of trees and human mortality from cardiovascular and lower respiratory disease, however it did not prove there is a causal link.

Donovan GH, Butry DT, Michael YL, Prestemon JP, Liebhold AM, Gatziolis D, Mao MY (2013) The relationship between trees and human health: evidence from the spread of the Emerald Ash Borer. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 44(2): 139-145.

This study used a natural experiment to test whether a major change to the natural environment—the loss of 100 million trees to the emerald ash borer, an invasive forest pest—has influenced mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory diseases. The results suggest that loss of trees to the emerald ash borer increased mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory-tract illness. This finding adds to the growing evidence that the natural environment provides major public health benefits.

Tsunetsugu Y, Lee J, Park BJ, Tyrväinen L, Kagawa T,  Miyazaki Y (2013) Physiological and psychological effects of viewing urban forest landscapes assessed by multiple measurements. Landscape and Urban Planning, 113: 90-93.

This study investigated the physiological and psychological effects of viewing urban forest landscapes on young male urban residents in forested areas and urban areas as the test sites. They found that even a short-term viewing of forests has relaxing effects. They concluded that the approach taken in this study was useful in exploring the influences of urban green space on humans, as well as contributing to the planning and design of a healthy environment for urban residents.

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