Forests and Human Health December-16-2014

Selected publications

Nowak DJ, Hirabayashi S, Bodine A, Greenfield E (2014) Tree and forest effects on air quality and human health in the United States. Environmental Pollution 193: 119-129.
This article estimated air pollution removal by trees over a very wide range in the USA. The scientists calculated that trees were saving more than 850 human lives a year and preventing 670,000 incidences of acute respiratory symptoms. The study considered four pollutants for which the U.S. EPA has established air quality standards: nitrogen dioxide, ozone, sulphur dioxide, and particulate matter less than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in aerodynamic diameter. This study, which modelled broad-scale effects of pollution removal by trees on air pollution concentrations and human health, reveals that while the percentage reduction in pollution concentration averages less than one percent, trees remove substantial amounts of pollution and can produce substantial health benefits and monetary value across the nation, with most of the health value derived from urban trees.

Lee et al. (2014) Influence of Forest Therapy on Cardiovascular relaxation in young adults. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Vol 2014, Article ID 834360
This article concerns the relative importance of physical activity, restorative experiences, and social interaction as mediators between exposure to nature and wellbeing. This study took a sample of 3060 Finnish people (38.3% response rate) aged 15–74 years who participated in a survey using an internet and a mail questionnaire.  The results revealed an association between the self-reported participation in nature-based recreation and emotional wellbeing through restorative experiences when adjusting for age, gender, household income, the level of leisure time physical activity and the frequency of active transportation.  This study concluded that walking in a forest environment may promote cardiovascular relaxation by facilitating the parasympathetic nervous system and by suppressing the sympathetic nervous system. In addition, forest therapy may be effective for reducing negative psychological symptoms.

Green cities: The benefits of the urban forest – a spotlight in the IUFRO World Forest Congress
A session of the IUFRO World Forest Congress this autumn, entitled “Urban forest diversity and ecosystem services” focused on species diversity in cities across the globe, the ecosystem services provided by them, how forest composition and species diversity affect those services and values, and how composition and species diversity are changing and will continue to change in the future. The urban forest session presented data on species diversity in cities across the globe, discussed how urban forest composition and species diversity affects various ecosystem services and values, and illustrated how and why composition and species diversity are likely to change.

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