The Limited Times

Now you can see non-English news...

Why we need healthy forests for healthy people


Spending time in green areas reduces anxiety, blood pressure and stress, but every year 10 million hectares are lost to deforestation

More than half of the world's population currently lives in urban areas.

It is predicted that by 2050 this proportion will increase to almost 70%.

Even people living in cities have begun to realize how vital access to forests, urban parks, and green spaces is to our mental health and well-being.

There is clear evidence that spending time in the woods reduces stress and lowers blood pressure and the risk of heart attacks.

Last month, a new study conducted at Italian universities suggested that simply breathing forest air can reduce anxiety due to volatile compounds released by trees.

In Japan, where more than nine out of ten people live in cities, 'forest bathing' is part of the public health strategy.

'Green prescribing' programmes, a comprehensive approach to health and care, are also gaining momentum in many countries.

Forests also act as a natural barrier to the spread of diseases from animals to humans.

By commemorating the International Day of Forests on this March 21, the many reasons to value them are highlighted.

They bring health to all of us, even if we never set foot on them.

They help fight the biggest threat we face today: climate change.

They are huge carbon sinks, containing 662 billion tons of carbon, which is more than half the carbon pool in soils and vegetation around the world.

They also protect us from rising temperatures and extreme weather events.

In addition, they regulate rainfall and protect us from landslides and floods.

Forests also act as a natural barrier to the spread of diseases from animals to humans.

As deforestation continues, that barrier is crumbling.

More than 30% of the new diseases reported since 1960 have been linked to changes in land use, including deforestation.

Our forests are also natural pharmacies.

Around 50,000 species of plants, many of which grow in forests, have medicinal value and are used by local communities to treat conditions ranging from snakebite and diarrhea to rheumatism and diabetes.

But there are also many common pharmaceutical medicines made from plants that grow in forests, such as cancer medicines made from Madagascar vinca.

The world's gift to humanity

However, forests and trees are at risk all over the world.

Every year 10 million hectares are lost to deforestation, and 90% of that loss is the result of agricultural expansion to feed a growing world population.

Forests are threatened by forest fires, pests, and extreme weather conditions.

In 2015 alone, fires affected approximately 98 million hectares of forests.

About a third of the world's tree species are at risk of going extinct forever.

So what can we do to maintain the health of our forests, and our own health?

We must take a more pragmatic approach to manage forests sustainably.

We must stop deforestation, but we must also plant new trees using species and techniques that maximize their resilience.

We need to implement policies to ensure that we can feed the world's population without destroying it, and boost agricultural productivity instead of expanding the land area needed.

And we need to better understand the financial benefits of sustainable forest management.

The simple act of breathing the air of a forest can reduce anxiety due to the volatile compounds that the trees release

Additionally, we must monitor natural forests and develop early detection and rapid response systems to eradicate diseases more quickly.

We must prevent the risk of forest fires breaking out long before the first spark ignites.

And we must support communities living in and near forests to have their rights to land and forest resources recognized.

These communities, which are often among the poorest in the world, are better placed to manage them well.

The more urbanized society becomes, the more we must work together to remember that we are part of nature and that our health and well-being depend on it.

We must act now to safeguard the forests and ensure they remain standing for our own health, that of our children, and that of future generations.

Zhimin Wu

is the director of the Forestry Division of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO).

You can follow PLANETA FUTURO on






, and subscribe


to our 'newsletter'


Source: elparis

All news articles on 2023-03-21

You may like

Life/Entertain 2023-03-03T09:41:43.642Z

Trends 24h

News/Politics 2023-06-02T11:13:53.977Z
News/Politics 2023-06-02T08:53:07.819Z


© Communities 2019 - Privacy

The information on this site is from external sources that are not under our control.
The inclusion of any links does not necessarily imply a recommendation or endorse the views expressed within them.