Cities Should Think of Trees as Public Health Infrastructure

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Did you know that tree-lined streets are proven to be beneficial to physical and mental health? So why not include them in health funding? The Nature Conservancy's new research demonstrates the number of reasons why this should be done.

The White Paper is a kind of guide, an official document, detailing a particular problem, indicating causes, concepts, and solutions to address it. The document is based in the United States, where less than a third of 1% of municipal budgets are spent on planting and tree maintenance. And, as a result, US cities lose four million trees a year.

"Imagine if there was a simple action that city leaders could take to reduce obesity and depression, improve productivity, increase educational outcomes, and reduce asthma and heart disease among its residents. Urban trees offer all these benefits and more," says the organization.

As we know, only some are convinced when numbers come into play. It was estimated that spending eight dollars per person once a year on average in an American city could fill the funding gap and prevent the loss of urban trees. 

Unequal Investment

Investment in planting new trees - or even taking care of those that exist - is perpetually underfunded. Despite the evidence, the report states that cities are spending less on trees than in previous decades.

Frequently, the presence or absence of urban nature is linked to the income level of a neighborhood, resulting in enormous inequalities in health. In some American cities, life expectancies in different neighborhoods, located a few miles away, may differ by up to a decade. Not all of this health disparity is connected to tree coverage, but researchers are increasingly confident that neighborhoods with fewer trees have worse health outcomes.

How to Plant More Trees in Cities

The document highlights a number of methods that can be applied by public and private power: 

  • Implementation of policies to encourage the private planting of trees.
  • More municipal exchanges that facilitate the collaboration of various departments, such as public health agencies and environmental agencies.
  • Link the financing of trees and parks to health goals and objectives.
  • Invest time and effort in educating the population about the tangible benefits of public health and the economic impact of trees.

Via CicloVivo.