Trees Ontario's Healthy Dose of Green Expert Forum initiates a
multi-sectoral dialogue on the health and economic benefits of a
TORONTO, Sept. 13, 2012 /CNW/ - A group of leading experts from the
medical community as well as the environment, forestry, planning,
parks, heritage, education and government sectors gathered yesterday to
discuss the role of trees and forests in building healthy communities.
The Healthy Dose of Green Expert Forum, hosted by Trees Ontario, was the first of its kind at the provincial
level to thoroughly examine the connection between trees, forests and
human health as well as the practical strategies to incorporate the
environment into our shared definition of health care.
Earlier this year, Trees Ontario released a report entitled A Healthy Dose of Green: A prescription for a healthy population. The paper highlights the growing body of evidence supporting the
benefits of forest ecosystems for human health. This report, well
received by the medical, forestry and academic communities, reveals
that a relatively modest investment in forest restoration activities
can reap great rewards by reducing long-term health care costs while
contributing to the collective health, well-being and productivity of
current and future generations.
Dr. John Howard, MD, FRCPC and Chair of the Canadian Association of
Physicians for the Environment (CAPE), contributed to the development
of Trees Ontario's health report. He was also the keynote presenter at
yesterday's forum. "In our current health care model, most of the
resources are allocated to the last six months of one's life," said Dr.
Howard. "We need to put less money into sickness care and invest more in prevention, education, social services and the
environment to ensure the health of future generations."
Forest fragmentation across Canada's settled landscape is contributing
to an unstable ecosystem resulting in habitat loss, environmental
degradation and an inability to adapt to the effects of climate change.
With our forests in jeopardy, we need to expand and intensify tree
planting and forest restoration initiatives nation-wide.
"We need to enlarge and reconnect our fragmented forests to help
conserve biodiversity which is particularly at risk in southern
Ontario." said Rob Keen, RPF, CEO of Trees Ontario. "Investing back
into the forests will have inherent benefits for us all. The
environment is a key factor in the sustainability of our economy and
our health. This forum has served as an important reminder that healthy
ecosystems are essential to sustaining healthy people and a healthy and
Trees Ontario, the largest not-for-profit tree planting partnership in
North America, is dedicated to strategic restoration efforts in
response to forest fragmentation in Canada. The not-for-profit works
with a growing network of stakeholders to plant trees and restore the
health of our natural environment across ecologically-significant
landscapes in order to establish contiguous forests that extend beyond
the geopolitical boundaries of Canadian cities and provinces.
"Prevention requires that we understand why illness occurs in the first
place and this cannot be done without considering the environment as a
contributing factor," said Dr. John McLaughlin, Professor of
epidemiology at the Dalla Lana School of Public Health at the
University of Toronto, who provided expert remarks at the forum. "I
applaud Trees Ontario on leading efforts to initiate a much needed
cross-sectoral dialogue on how forests and the greening of communities
can contribute to better health."
Ultimately, greater forest cover will foster a cleaner, greener Canada
that is more resilient to the effects of climate change and one that is
rich in employment and economic opportunities associated with the
nation's prized natural resources. Trees Ontario invites all
organizations and individuals interested in the health of our
environment to join the recovery efforts.
Trees Ontario, working with its partners, is the largest not-for-profit
tree planting partnership in North America. It is committed to the
re-greening of Ontario through a range of tree planting activities.
The goal of Trees Ontario is to restore the province's tree planting
capacity, especially across southern Ontario's private lands, by
providing funding and planning support for its tree planting partners.
These include Conservation Ontario and its local Conservation
Authorities, Ontario Stewardship Councils, First Nations, municipal
governments and community volunteer groups.
Trees Ontario is also leading the government of Ontario's 50 Million Tree Program. This program represents the greatest pledge in North America, made by
the province in 2007, to plant 50 million trees in Ontario as part of
the United Nations' Billion Tree Campaign.
For more information, visit www.treesontario.ca.
SOURCE: Trees Ontario
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