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  • Saturday, May, 2024| Today's Market | Current Time: 07:36:47
  • Environmentalist and co-founder of social enterprise Grow-Trees.com, Pradip Shah says afforestation benefits not just the environment but also human health.

    The theme for this year’s World Health Day is ‘My Health, My Right’, which re-emphasises the need to ensure every individual’s access to quality health services, education, clean drinking water, air and nutrition. Among these, clean air needs urgent attention given the increasing levels of air pollution, as highlighted in the World Bank report titled ‘Catalysing Clean Air in India.’ The agency also reveals that a majority of India’s population is exposed to spiralling levels of the most harmful pollutant – ambient PM 2.5.

    Environmentalists say that trees can play a pivotal role in tackling air pollution and on World Health Day, Pradip Shah, co-founder of the social enterprise Grow-Trees.com discusses how afforestation activities can mitigate air pollution and soothe urban heat islands with green cover.

    An overview of how trees can help make the planet and us, healthier:

    Climate Change Mitigation

    As per the data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), India’s economy witnessed rapid growth in 2023 at 6.7 per cent. However, at the same time, the country’s net emissions are also increasing faster than its GDP, at more than 7 per cent, as per the report. The rise in CO2 emissions will contribute to climate change, which can be prevented to a major extent by planting more trees. Trees are efficient carbon sinks and an acre of mature trees can provide enough oxygen for 18 people annually and combat pollution considerably. 

    Water Conservation

    Through the process of transpiration, trees release water vapour through their leaves into the atmosphere. Research says that a fully grown tree can release hundreds of litres of water into the atmosphere through transpiration in a day, making them a vital element in the water cycle. Trees also improve the ability and capacity of soil to absorb water. Their roots allow water to percolate deep into the ground which helps increase groundwater levels.  By providing shade, trees additionally help reduce the evaporation of groundwater. 

    Heat Alleviation

    Research informs that temperatures of urban forests are on average 2.9°F lower than those in unforested urban areas. This is because trees offer natural cooling solutions such as shade, evaporation and transpiration and help bring down atmospheric temperature. Green lung spaces counter solar heat and make urban environments more pleasant as less energy is absorbed and re-radiated into the air. Expanding urban areas and shrinking green cover on the other hand lead to soaring temperatures and a disrupted water cycle. 

    Prevent soil erosion

    The thick roots of trees can spread out and branch into small filaments that can create an interconnected network underground. This root system further helps in stabilising the soil around the tree by holding it together. By preventing soil erosion, it also helps in preserving the soil nutrients. The natural ability of trees to tackle soil degradation also helps prevent the removal of fertile layers by water.

    Health Benefits

    Finland, the happiest country in the world, revels in the joys of clean air, pure water and access to wooded places. Nature plays a big role in keeping stress levels down in Finland and research also shows that trees are great for our mental health. Parks and urban gardens can additionally serve as community spaces where there is enough space for children to play, friends to congregate and fitness enthusiasts of all ages to follow a rejuvenating exercise regimen.

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