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Tree Roundup

January 25, 2013

Merely being around healthy trees could make people healthier.



Healthier living through trees. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Many people like trees for aesthetic reasons; new research suggests they may also be good for our health. Scientists at the US Forest Service compared mortality rates of people living in communities with healthy trees to those living in places devastated by a tree killing insect called the emerald ash borer. The treeless communities had 21,000 more deaths from cardiovascular and lower respiratory disease. While the reason for the additional deaths hasn’t been determined, the work suggests that trees provide more than shade and beauty.

In other tree news, willow trees can be used to make biofuels, and British scientists report that trees grown diagonally yield five times more fuel than trees growing straight up. Apparently, the tilted trees produce more of a structural sugar in their trunks trying to straighten up. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.

A green ash tree killed by an emerald ash borer. (USDA/Wikipedia)