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Consider the Benefits of Healthy Forests on GivingTuesday

Posted: May 5, 2020

At Forests Ontario, we know there are many important causes to support. GivingTuesday is a day to support these causes by donating and sharing information. Though GivingTuesday usually takes place in November following Black Friday, this year the organizers have moved it to May 5th as an emergency response to COVID-19. This GivingTuesday, we would like to highlight how protecting nature can improve human health and explain how reforming environmental practices could help to prevent future pandemics.

Forests play an important role in maintaining our health through a variety of functions. Tree cover reduces the amount of smog and pollution in the air and helps lower the risk of cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. Reducing contaminants in the air also lowers lung cancer rates. Similarly, trees play a role in improving our mental health by reducing stress levels, so if you’ve ever felt better after taking a hike, you might have trees to thank! Nature may also contribute to lessening the severity of Attention Deficit Disorder symptoms in children. For more information on how forests contribute to human health and wellbeing, be sure to check out A Healthy Dose of Green: A prescription for a healthy population (a collaboration between Trees Ontario, Forests Ontario’s predecessor, and EcoHealth Ontario).

But how does an unhealthy planet contribute to the spread of new diseases? According to a recent article by UN News, human activity is pushing wildlife into constantly shrinking areas left untouched by development, thus increasing potential contact between humans and animals hosting dangerous diseases. This contact increases the spread of ‘zoonotic diseases’ – diseases that develop out of pathogens travelling from animals to humans. To decrease the risk of spreading these zoonotic diseases, the article stresses that “the ‘wild’ must be kept ‘wild.’ It is time to restore our forests, stop deforestation, [and] invest in the management of protected areas.” Conserving animal habitats is an important step in preventing future pandemics, and it’s up to us to empower both individuals and organizations to meet this goal.

From cleaning pollutants in the air to potentially helping avoid future pandemics, it’s clear that both sustainably managing existing forests and planting new ones can protect our long-term health. Forests Ontario has facilitated the planting of more than 33 million trees, and we’re proud of what we have accomplished by increasing forest cover and connecting existing forests. This GivingTuesday, we hope you’ll consider donating to Forests Ontario.