We humans have a long history of relationship and admiration with the trees. Perhaps because of its ancestral presence (after all, considering only the trees with flowers- the angiosperms appeared 160 million years ago), its beauty and grandeur, and its presence in our food history, standing next to a small wood or forest always evokes many emotions.

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In different cultures, trees occupy a central place in mythology. Being seen as the Tree of Life, Axis Mundi, or a sacred grove, several species have been identified from historical and mythological accounts and allow a better understanding of the role of trees in human history. For the ancient Celts and Druids, the Oak plays a central role. Its name Duir in Celtic may be related to the name of the Druids. The Olive tree also has a place in the monotheistic religions, like a Holy Tree, although some researchers have identified this version of the tree of life as being, in fact, a Fig tree. In Africa, the Baobab is seen as a bridge between the worlds by the Yoruba.IMG_20170404_074853_148

Trees are important allies in health promotion. A study published in 2013 in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed a correlation between a decrease in tree numbers and an increase in heart and lung disease. Being in the presence of trees can also reduce cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and increase creativity according to other studies.

Despite all the benefits and charms of trees, deforestation and the loss of species and biodiversity is a matter of concern. Some estimates indicate deforestation of 74-93 thousand square kilometres occurring annually, the equivalent of 48 football fields per minute (https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation). In some places, this can result in nearly 8,000 species of trees being classified as at risk.

I leave here the invitation to participate more of nature around you. To notice the trees, whether they are close to home or on the way to work or to the bakery. To breathe their air and feel the different textures of the different trunks. And if possible, get involved in planting and reforestation activities, either in person or by contributing to other projects.

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Some of the cited studies:

Donovan, Geoffrey H. et al.
American Journal of Preventive Medicine , Volume 44 , Issue 2 , 139 – 145
Jiang, B., Chang, C., & Sullivan, W. C. (2014). A dose of nature: Tree cover, stress reduction, and gender differences. Landscape and Urban Planning, 132, 26-36. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2014.08.005
Thompson, C. W., Roe, J., Aspinall, P., Mitchell, R., Clow, A., & Miller, D. (2012). More green space is linked to less stress in deprived communities: Evidence from salivary cortisol patterns. Landscape and Urban Planning, 105(3), 221-229. doi:10.1016/j.landurbplan.2011.12.015
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