(UR) It’s no secret: trees are an integral part of how we live on this planet. From their well-known and vital role in the oxygen cycle, and their importance to their ecosystems — they are also central to the human food system. But trees also have other, less obviously integral benefits that manifest in our lives. Sure, without trees it would definitely be harder to breathe — but it might also be harder to just relax.
Their aesthetic value in urban areas aside, there are many reasons to love trees planted in cities. For one, trees reduce stress. According to research, spending time among trees and other vegetation reduces stress while easing brain fatigue. Populations living near trees have a lower amount of cortisol, a stress-related hormone, meaning they experience stress less acutely than people who don’t live near trees.
Trees and urban green spaces have also been shown to help children with attention deficit disorder. By simply wandering through a green space before testing, children experienced positive cognitive effects that helped them focus on tasks in ways other settings did not. But reduced stress and increased attention span aren’t the only ways trees help humans cope.