Health Forests: Scaling Up Urban Forests as a Health Response

Loading...
Thumbnail Image

Date

2022-04-21

Advisors

Cagle, Nicolette
Bachman, Joseph

Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title

Repository Usage Stats

99
views
186
downloads

Abstract

In the eastern United States, urban lifestyles, conditions, and constraints are causing a rise in chronic diseases like heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, which cost trillions of dollars annually to treat. Given the importance of forests for ecological restoration, this study explores whether regenerating native forest patches that incorporate health treatments (or “Health Forests”) in at-risk urban neighborhoods -- as a unified place-based response -- can treat these diseases more cost-effectively while accessing healthcare funding sources to improve environmental outcomes. The study suggests that Health Forests, distributed at large enough scale, could improve health outcomes and restore regional ecosystems at substantial cost savings. Nature experiences lower blood sugar, blood pressure, and cortisol levels, and they improve concentration, immune function, and heart rate variability; however, focused medical research showing treatment efficacy is still needed to enable corporate healthcare payers to justify funding this effort. This study finds that, if creating and operating Health Forests causes even a 20% net reduction of annual covered medical expenditures due to chronic diseases, corporate healthcare payers could reap substantial financial benefits from doing so.

Description

Provenance

Citation

Citation

Toker, Rachel (2022). Health Forests: Scaling Up Urban Forests as a Health Response. Master's project, Duke University. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/24861.


Dukes student scholarship is made available to the public using a Creative Commons Attribution / Non-commercial / No derivative (CC-BY-NC-ND) license.