ITF recognises the vital roles of trees in our planet’s ecosystem, including providing habitats for wildlife, helping mitigate climate change and contributing to people’s livelihoods. However, the direct benefits to humans through experiencing forest environments are less widely acknowledged globally.
Sam Choan has written a post for ITF outlining these benefits. As a gardening enthusiast, Sam created Organic Lesson to share his experience and knowledge around gardening. Over the last year, he has expanded the site to cover environmental and sustainability issues. His infographic provides yet more reasons why we need to plant, protect and promote understanding of the vital role of trees.
What can trees do for us?
The chills of winter have reached many of us living in the northern hemisphere but that shouldn’t discourage you from making a trip outdoors to embrace nature. When we discuss trees, we mostly focus on the benefits trees provide to the environment. However, what many of us don’t realize is that these same trees could also be of immense benefit to our overall health and well-being. In the infographic above by Organic Lesson, Sam explains the health benefits that walking in the woods and forests bring. These benefits include:
- Reducing Stress Levels
Imagine yourself walking through the woods with nothing to trouble you as you gaze at the scenic elements of nature. Several studies have found that being surrounded by trees could help with alleviating stress. For example, one study by researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign found that participants who viewed nature had lower levels of cortisol (stress hormones) than those exposed to a more urban environment.
- Boosting Immune Systems
Studies have also suggested that being surrounded by trees could help boost one’s immune system. How does that work? Well, plants emit a substance called Phytocides and one function of Phytocide is to help protect plants from bugs and diseases. When humans breathe in the substance, studies have found that the body responds by increasing the activity of white blood cells called natural killer cells. As the name implies, these white blood cells have been linked with boosting the immune system and also reducing the risks of cancer.
This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of walking in the woods, but keep in mind that you can participate in all sorts of activities other than walking and running. Depending on where you live, you may also come across fun outdoor activities like hiking, photography classes, and outdoor yoga. If you are an environmentalist then you can kill two birds with one stone by participating in green activities like tree planting or natural site cleanups.
As you can see, there is plenty to gain and little to lose by going outdoors. Trees serve a very important role in the environment and it is up to us to support forestry projects to ensure future generations get to enjoy the same health benefits as we do by taking trips to the forest.
To read more from Sam Choan, visit his website Organic Lesson.