New study by U.S. Forest Service links beautiful, healthy trees to our own health

Community Forest
Mature trees enhance this urban street. Photo: Guy Kramer.

It should be no surprise that our natural environment gives us a sense of calmness, reducing stress, but now we have more solid evidence of a link, specifically between healthy people and healthy trees.

A new U.S. Forest Service report, “The Relationship between Trees and Human Health,” was recently printed in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine. According to Forest Service researcher Geoffrey Donovan, Americans living in areas of diseased trees had higher rates of cardiovascular disease and lower-respiratory disease when compared with areas that have uninfected trees.

Donovan said that it could have been tempting to conclude some other factor in the higher mortality rates, such as income or education. But, he said, the researchers saw the same patterns repeated over and over in counties with very different demographic make-ups. This finding adds to the growing evidence that the natural environment provides major public health benefits.

Currently, Washington State is facing serious forest health problems. As DNR addresses these issues with landowners and land managers, it’s important to know that having healthy trees isn’t just about reducing wildfire risks. It’s more inclusive of a holistic approach to our well being.

Drop by the DNR Facebook page to join in a discussion of the link between human health and healthy community forests.

Learn more about tree health in your community at DNR’s Forest Health and Urban and Community Forestry Programs.

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