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Trees could Reduce Cost of Health Care

Kathleen Blanchard's picture
Evidence shows natural settings with trees promote health.

Scientists at the 2010 IUFRO World Forestry Congress in Seoul say trees and green areas in cities could help cut health care costs. There is scientific evidence that nature heals by reducing stress, boosting immunity and calming aggressiveness. Natural environments are more conducive to healing than urban settings. Scientists say there is monetary value in reducing health care costs and boosting productivity that can comes from maintaining trees and green areas in cities.

According to Dr. Eeva Karjalainen, of the Finnish Forest Research Institute, Metla, "Many people feel relaxed and good when they are out in nature. But not many of us know that there is also scientific evidence about the healing effects of nature." Naturally attractive areas make people feel good. Trees and green areas might also boost immune fighting cells through stress relief that can curb cancer. Green areas and trees can help reduce health care spending by promoting well-being and healing.

Dr. Karjalainen is the coordinator on the health benefits of forests to be presented at the 2010 IUFRO World Forestry Congress in Seoul. "Preserving green areas and trees in cities is very important to help people recover from stress, maintain health and cure diseases. There is also monetary value in improving people's working ability and reducing health care costs." she says.

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Dr. Karjalainen points out medicines that come from trees such as Taxol for breast and ovarian cancer and Xylitol used to prevent tooth decay that comes from hardwood bark. Preserving trees and green areas in cities can help lower blood pressure, relieve stress and help people recover faster from illness, leading to lower health care spending.

Access to natural settings promotes health and happiness and reduces levels of stress hormones. Preserving trees and green areas in cities could also lead to decreased health care spending. Promoting green areas is not just about environment and climate change.

The IUFRO World Congress meets every 5 years to discuss important areas of forest research, policy and management. Preserving trees and green areas in cities can promote health and well being. The researchers say preserving trees and green areas within cities can promote healing, in turn reducing health care costs.


Image credit: Morguefile