If you want to live like you’re $10,000 wealthier, or thrive as if you’re seven years younger, you may want to hold off on that white picket fence and leave the trees alone.
There is actionable evidence for a simple truth: the presence of trees around you - even just close enough to look at - improves your health. For instance, people positioned in hospital rooms that look upon nearby trees are discharged about a day earlier than patients who had the same procedure but whose windows yielded no view of greenery.
A study in neighborhood greenspace has shown that with just ten trees added to a block where neighbors are looking upon, walking by and beneath, and breathing the air of the additional trees, a 1% increase in health results - the equivalent to providing each household $10,000. And that’s only ten trees.
Many developing countries, though, see trees as an impediment to economic prosperity, cutting them down for cattle farms, cities, or to sell to loggers.
However, there is a correlation between the amount of trees in a country and their economic stability. The maintenance and development of forest areas provide 50 million jobs across the globe, and $600 billion dollars annually to the global GDP.
The U.N. has been taking specific action to preserve and develop forests and other water-related ecosystems, knowing how vital they are to the health of the earth and its inhabitants. Made in 2015, Target 6.6 of the Sustainable Development Goals (U.N.) states, “By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes”.
The Sustainable Development Goals promote the conservation of natural resources while working in harmony with nature to end poverty, increase health, reduce inequalities, create sustainable cities, and much more.
As areas of industry worldwide produce toxic carbon emissions at unprecedented levels, the clearing of trees only furthers the detriment to our health. Maturing trees are capable of consuming 48 pounds of carbon per year; when enough of them are planted in an area, they have a significant effect on not only trapping, but clearing carbon emissions from the air.
In an attempt to align with the U.N.’s SDGs and claim responsibility over what we know to be true (and simple) about the solution, it is in our personal best interest to see that forest life not be decimated.
Much more than softening the hard aesthetics of skyscrapers and city streets, trees offer an encompassing solution to the areas of health and wellness, economic prosperity and environmental sustainability.
Please consider donating to the organizations working to maintain forest life, such as the American Forest Foundation. No extra cash? If you haven’t caught on yet, planting trees is literally like growing money - check out your local tree planting opportunities!
Lindsey Schad & Adrienne Bingham