The Benefits of a Healthy Forest
Tue., Mar. 21, 2023
By Rachel Kappler, Great Lakes Basin Forest Health Collaborative Coordinator
Forests are beneficial in many ways; air quality, water purity, and erosion control, they positively impact our health and create a long-term stable environment.
Happy International Day of Forests! A day of awareness started by the United Nations General Assembly in 2013, ten years of efforts to bring the importance of forests to the forefront of our minds. Here is a collection of photos from NE Ohio that my husband and I have taken on our outdoor walks with some facts about forests.
A place I walk by often and usually get to enjoy viewing deer grazing in the open. Trees’ ability to produce oxygen is one of the most obvious benefits they bring us. They also improve air quality by capturing air pollution particulate matter on their leaf surface and creating a wind break within our environment.
Forest create a long-term stable environment but in NE Ohio must survive the winter. Deciduous trees go dormant in the winter to survive the cold, changing their internal living cells components to act more like an antifreeze. While some prefer the look of trees with leaves, I like the benefit of being able to clearly see where the birds are in the tree.
Forests help purify water as it passes through the ground and control erosion by holding sediment in place to keep it out of the stream.
Forests benefit waterways through shade creation which allows water species to have cooler environments to thrive in.
Forest gaps allow for new plants to grow or in this case oak leaves may suppress plants from growing and increase the likelihood of sapling growth.
Hike where there are forest trails that veer off from the core gardens. Spending time in the forest, whether hiking, walking, or sitting, positively impacts our health both mentally and physically. Research has shown that these activities reduce our stress hormone cortisol and that creates multiple beneficial reactions in our bodies. I love this page as it lists forests health benefits and includes research references!
Holden Forests & Gardens also encourage others to celebrate trees with their People for Trees campaign, which asks the public to pledge to plant a tree (or more) while providing the information needed to guide you in that process all in one place online. In Ohio, April is the perfect time to plant a new tree because the weather is cooler and wetter, which gives the tree roots time to establish before nature indicates it’s time to bud out into leaves. Pledge today at: https://holdenfg.org/make-an-impact/people-for-trees/#pledge
Great Lakes Basin Forest Health Collaborative Coordinator
Rachel helps facilitate partners tree activities for pest-resistance breeding in current priority species, ash, American beech, and eastern hemlock. She also hosts workshops, webinars, and trainings for partners to help them achieve their forest health goals.