A project of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and Project Drawdown
A project of the Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments and Project Drawdown

Nature-Based Solutions

Trees and land usage have one of the biggest impacts on climate change. Even though the species of trees and nature differ around the globe, the role of health care remains the same. We need to protect the forests and groves that currently exist and reforest or plant trees on land that is currently vacant. Today there is more and more evidence that trees are good for our health. For example, trees provide shade which can decrease need for air conditioning and offset some of the health risks of our rising temperatures. Through respiration, trees remove carbon dioxide from the air, which slows climate change and is especially important for people with respiratory conditions. Trees also create calming spaces, which can improve mental wellbeing. Therefore, protecting trees and promoting afforestation ultimately protect patients and the communities in our care.

Drawdown Impact

Protecting forests, especially in the tropics, not only draws down greenhouse gasses but healthy tropical forests are necessary for healthy humans.

Nature-based solutions effectively address greenhouse gasses in several ways. Planting trees on vacant land works to pull carbon out of the air and sink it in the soil. According to Drawdown science, planting dense plots of diverse and native species also has numerous health co-benefits including enhanced food options as well as flood and drought protection. 

Protecting forests, especially in the tropics, not only draws down greenhouse gasses but healthy tropical forests are necessary for healthy humans. Forests protect our pollinators which are necessary for adequate food supplies; forests protect biodiversity which is essential for future medicines; and protecting tropical forests protects people and communities that have called these places home for thousands of years. Read more about the science of this drawdown activity and the impacts of solutions identified by Project Drawdown:

Why Nurses

Nature Now video featuring climate activist Greta Thunberg and a call to afforestation

Florence Nightingale believed that nature plays a significant role in healing. . Today, that belief is underscored by the research which reveals the significant impact of nature-based therapeutics. For example, exposure to nature can improve concentration, promote relaxation, and decrease anxiety (Larson, 2018). Given forests’ ability to contribute to the health of humans and the planet, nurses need to do all that we can to protect and promote the wellbeing of this vitally important member of the ecosystem. Healthy forests = healthy humans.

*Thank you to Plant for the Planet for allowing us to use the photo at the top of the page. They work with children around the globe on reforestation efforts.

Trees help support healthy environments and healthy humans. They support pollinators, provide habitat, filter water, and sequester carbon. They provide health benefits through:

  • Providing shade to counteract urban heat island effects and help reduce cooling costs and energy in the summer months.
  • Tree covered neighborhoods experience less depression and anxiety, less crime and decreased risk of skin cancer.
  • Near-road tree plantings next to highways and other large roadways help to reduce vehicular pollution.

Key Areas for Action

Nurses around the world are invited to join the Nurses Drawdown movement by taking personal and professional action in five key areas:

Supporting a clean energy future by promoting energy efficiency and advocating for a transition to renewable energy

Committing to eat a more plant-based diet, use clean-burning cookstoves, and reduce food waste

Supporting education for girls and access to family planning

 Promoting walkable cities, including improving bike infrastructure and mass transit

Planting trees and protecting forests