City Greenery Boosts Public Health
Urban trees help reduce obesity and depression, improve productivity, boost educational outcomes and reduce incidences of asthma and heart disease for residents, yet according to The Nature Conservancy, American cities spend less than a third of 1 percent of municipal budgets on tree planting and maintenance. As a result, U.S. cities are losing 4 million trees per year.
Each summer, thousands of unnecessary deaths result from heat waves in urban areas. Studies have shown that trees are a cost-effective solution. Too often, the presence or absence of urban nature and its associated benefits is tied to a neighborhood’s income level, resulting in dramatic health inequities. In some American cities, life expectancies in different neighborhoods located just a few miles apart can differ by as much as a decade. Not all of this health disparity is connected to the tree cover, but researchers are increasingly finding that neighborhoods with fewer trees have worse health outcomes, so inequality in access to urban nature can lead to worse health inequities.
To read the white paper, visit Tinyurl.com/FundingTreesForHealth.
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This article appears in the January 2018 issue of Natural Awakenings.