The Health and Wellbeing Effects of Forests, Trees and Green Space

Davand, Payam; de Vries, S.; Bauer, Nicole; Dayamba, Djibril S.; Feng, Xiaoqi; Morand, Serge; Payyappallimana, Unnikrishnan; Remans, Roseline; Rasolofoson, Ranaivo; Shackleton, Charlie; Shanley, Patricia; Tyrväinen, Liisa; van den Berg, A.E.; van den Bosch, Matilda


There is no such thing as human health without a healthy planet. Forests are a central part of the planet’s ecosystems and, as such, understanding human-forest interdependence is central to achieving optimal health for all, now and for future generations. Contemporary human health challenges differ across the globe. In high-income countries, there is a dominance of non-communicable diseases that, to some extent, are related to a disconnect from, and unhealthy interactions with, forests. In other parts of the world, health is related to
interactions with forests through, for example, nutrition and other services provided by forests or through infectious diseases, such as malaria, that are in turn all impacted by forest management and practices. Planetary health approaches provide a way of considering environmental protection as an inherent part of the solution to health. In this context, forests play an important role. Positive interactions with healthy forest ecosystems can contribute to various services, such as promotion of healthier lifestyles, prevention of disease and livelihoods. This chapter defines common concepts and discusses the need for systems thinking when addressing the complex and dynamic relationships between forests and human health, including the importance of acknowledging voices and knowledge from Indigenous peoples and local communities. It outlines the consequences of urbanisation and humans’ disconnect from nature as well as various theories, pathways and mechanisms that support evidence on positive health impacts of forests. Finally, it provides a framework that brings together the information provided in the remainder of the report.