How trees can improve climate, health, mood, and more

October 13, 2023 – Trees provide a host of benefits, according to experts—they can combat extreme heat, expand access to nature, reduce people’s stress and blood pressure levels, promote physical activity, improve mental health and foster community pride.

An October 9 article in National Geographic on the benefits of trees included comments from two researchers from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health’s Department of Environmental Health, Peter James, and Linda Tomasso.

Spending time among trees can help people manage stress and improve their attention. “We spend so much time staring at computer screens, but being in nature allows us to replenish that cognitive reserve,” said James, an associate professor. “Staring at trees, even watching leaves scatter in the wind allows our brains to be ready for the next cognitive task.”

Tomasso, a research fellow, noted that trees can be particularly beneficial to children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) by helping them focus more.

Trees can also boost civic and community pride, especially in underserved areas, Tomasso said. “Psychologically, people feel ‘someone is paying attention to my neighborhood,’” she said. “Some entity cares about my neighborhood. I matter.’”

The article also noted that trees provide important benefits, helping remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and cooling down neighborhoods by providing shade. Trees have also been linked with lower mortality rates and reduced crime and gun violence, according to the article.

Read the article: The surprising way that millions of new trees could transform America

Learn more

Boost your mental health by spending time outside (Harvard Chan School news)

The health benefits of trees (Harvard Chan School news)