Most people are aware of the importance of trees to climate change – they fix carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and so mitigate the emissions of us evil humans. Now a new study reveals that trees also directly save human lives. The USDA examined the role of trees in sequestering pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone and particulates from the atmosphere. They concluded that trees do enough to save over 800 people a year in the US from death and some 670,000 from severe respiratory illness. Average tree cover in the USA is around 34%, so when compared to New Zealand with only 24% we could probably make ourselves a little healthier by encouraging more reforestation!
You can read the USDA report in full at: http://www.nrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/46102.