Healing is a process that takes place on the inside but is reflected on the outside. A healthy environment creates healthy conditions for healthy people to live within. In our current global society, we are experiencing an interconnected series of environmental and geo-political crises. To heal from these harmful complications we must first embrace the connections between one another and the environment. By restoring our species’ place and purpose as a creative and collaborative force for positive change, humanity and the Earth can begin to heal.
Where trees grow, breath is balanced, abundant species live, and we can access healthy states. Embark on a more forest-friendly existence.
“I cannot say exactly how nature exerts its calming and organizing effects on our brains, but I have seen in my patients the restorative and healing powers of nature and gardens, even for those who are deeply disabled neurologically. In many cases, gardens and nature are more powerful than any medication.” — Oliver Sacks32
71% of deforestation results from agriculture. Why are we cutting down precious plants, scarring the lungs of our earth, to grow crops that can be grown and harvested within the canopies of diverse vegetation? The concept of agroforestry combines agriculture and forestry by growing trees and shrubs around crops. This method of land-use management balances the benefits of agriculture while still looking to not only preserve (and sometimes even increase) biodiversity, but to also reduce erosion. The land is healthier with a greater diversity of species growing together.
Multistrata Agroforestry makes use of layered trees and crops to maximize space across horizontal and vertical planes. This agricultural system mimics the natural composition of forests. As described by Project Drawdown (a global resource for climate solutions), when agricultural practices shift into agroforestry, people have been able to “regenerate sandy dirt into rich loam, create in-farm fertility without the use of compost or manure, and greatly increase water retention.”33 This regenerative capacity reaffirms how working with nature’s principles—in this instance, following the natural anatomy of a forest—can serve to replenish land that has been mistreated.
Forests are valuable not only for their beautiful verdant aesthetics, but for their irreplaceable contribution to the health of humanity. We wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the ability of trees to give us such an abundance of oxygen. When we exhale and emit our co2, the trees take that gas in and, through the process of photosynthesis, push back out that gas, now in the form of breathable oxygen. Yet, the benefits of reforestation and conservation go beyond carbon capture and greater production of oxygen. For humans, greenery provides untold psychological advantages as well. As neurologist Oliver Sacks acknowledged, the various proven, and celebrated, benefits of being around greenery—of which forests are prime, fully expressed examples—are still somewhat scientifically mysterious. Our best guess is that being around living systems that demonstrate healthy regulation and longstanding stability, actually nourishes aspects of our own biological systems to restore, rejuvenate, and renew them.
To secure a sustainable future, we have to start caring for the world’s forests. By departing from deforestation, and embarking on reforestation, we will lead ourselves onto a path of healthier ecology as much as healthier psychology.
- The Power of Humility
- Healthy Habits
- Environmental Actors
- Economic Priorities
- Lessons Ahead