Trees save human lives: Studies link forest with upper respiratory illness, 850 lives saved yearly.

What Happens When Trees Disappear? People Die.

What Happens When Trees Disappear? People Die.

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Aug. 14 2014 1:06 PM

The Power of Trees

The U.S. Forest Service wants to prove the immediate, measurable effects of tree loss on human health.

AMAZONAS STATE, BRAZIL - NOVEMBER 27: Amazon rainforest trees stand as seen from a transport riverboat (NOT PICTURED) in the Brazilian Amazon from Maues to Manaus on November 27, 2013 in Amazonas State, Brazil. The approximately 20-hour journey in the riverboat costs about $25 USD and includes three meals while most passengers sleep in their own hammocks, usual for Amazon riverboat travel. Riverboats ferry people and cargo throughout the Amazon and often serve as the primary form of mass transportation. Manaus' Arena Amazonia will be a stadium venue during the forthcoming FIFA 2014 World Cup Brazil. Manaus is the largest city in the Amazon holding around 2 million and is the main hub for transport in the Upper Amazon basin. (Photo by Mario Tama/Getty Images)

Mario Tama

Several studies have suggested that tree-filled settings can reduce stress or boost mental health. Now, new research is going further: Late last month, a study published in the journal Environmental Pollution suggested trees prevent 850 deaths a year and save billions in health care costs. 

And that isn’t even the starkest link the U.S. Forest Service has made between trees and human health.

Paca Thomas is a regular video contributor to Slate.

Jeffrey Bloomer is a Slate senior editor. He edits and writes for the human interest and culture sections.