Planting trees could help this city prevent 400 premature deaths

Increasing tree cover in Philadelphia could save hundreds of lives, a study says.

(CNN)Many cities around the world are planting trees as a way to fight climate change.

But they might also reduce our risks of dying early.
Scientists say these trees, and other ways to green urban areas, could be just as beneficial to our mental and physical health and reduce the risk of premature death.
    New research has put a number on just how many premature deaths could be prevented in one US city if it were to increase tree cover from 20% to 30% within five years.
      Philadelphia, America's fifth-largest city, could help as many as 403 adults a year live longer if it meets its existing target, according to a study published Monday in the journal Lancet Planetary Health. The city's efforts could also yield a nearly $4 billion estimated annual economic benefit.
      The authors said there's no reason that other cities, particularly ones in climates similar to Philadelphia, shouldn't benefit to the same extent.
      "Although every city has its own characteristics, this study provides an example for all the cities in the world: Many lives can be saved by increasing trees and greening urban environments, even at modest levels," said Mark Nieuwenhuijsen, the study coordinator and director of the environment and health initiative at the Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal).
        "What's more, green spaces increase biodiversity and reduce the impact of climate change, making our cities more sustainable and more liveable."

        Green spaces

        ISGlobal took part in a systematic review published last year of research involving 8 million people in seven countries that found that urban dwellers who live in close proximity to green space are less likely to die prematurely.
        "The major ways that nature or green space can improve health include improved social contact and cohesion -- how we relate to each other other," said Michelle Kondo, a research social scientist with the US Forest Service and the first author of the study.
        "It can also improve stress levels and increase opportunity for physical activities," she added.
        Spending time in nature boosts health, study finds