New study links trees to better public health, suggests they save lives
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine has recently witnessed the publication of a new study suggesting that the presence of trees is likely to lower people's risks of developing various cardiovascular and respiratory diseases.The specialists who issued this hypothesis maintain that, after analyzing 18 years' worth of data concerning public health in over 1,296 counties in 15 states across the US, they reached the conclusion that human communities living in close proximity to trees were less likely to be affected by said medical conditions.
More precisely, they found that human communities who lacked trees as a result of their being destroyed by a beetle known as the emerald ash borer reported an average 15,000 more deaths from cardiovascular diseases than those who had incorporated such patches of greenery into their urban architecture.
Furthermore, no-trees communities also witnessed roughly 6,000 more deaths from respiratory diseases than the others, Mongabay explains.
“Results suggest that loss of trees to the emerald ash borer increased mortality related to cardiovascular and lower-respiratory-tract illness,” the study reads.
For the time being, the researchers are unable to pinpoint the exact link between the presence of trees and improved public health.
However, it is their belief that it all comes down to the trees' ability to improve on local air quality, reduce stress, and moderate local temperatures.
As was to be expected, they also took into consideration the possibility that trees up people's desire to engage in outdoor physical activities, something that leads to their improving on their overall wellbeing.
“There's a natural tendency to see our findings and conclude that, surely, the higher mortality rates are because of some confounding variable, like income or education, and not the loss of trees. But we saw the same pattern repeated over and over in counties with very different demographic makeups,” explained Geoffrey Donovan, a specialist working with the US Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station.