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Posts Tagged ‘tree’

Image: Reuters/Denis Balibouse
The World Economic Forum touts research suggesting that “forest bathing,” the act of being among the trees, has health benefits.

We love trees. John, for example, serves on the Arlington tree committee and helps with the town’s efforts to inventory its trees, acquire more sidewalk plantings, and assist researchers studying the role of urban trees in carbon reduction.

A master landscaper I know is also into trees. He shared this story about the health benefits of something the Japanese call “forest bathing.”

Ephrat Livini wrote at the World Economic Forum, “Now there’s scientific evidence supporting eco-therapy. The Japanese practice of forest bathing is proven to lower heart rate and blood pressure, reduce stress hormone production, boost the immune system, and improve overall feelings of well-being.

“Forest bathing — basically just being in the presence of trees—became part of a national public health program in Japan in 1982 when the forestry ministry coined the phrase shinrin-yoku and promoted topiary as therapy. …

“Forest air doesn’t just feel fresher and better — inhaling phytoncide seems to actually improve immune system function. …

“From 2004 to 2012, Japanese officials spent about $4 million dollars studying the physiological and psychological effects of forest bathing, designating 48 therapy trails based on the results. Qing Li, a professor at Nippon Medical School in Tokyo, measured the activity of human natural killer (NK) cells in the immune system before and after exposure to the woods. These cells provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells and respond to tumor formation, and are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention. In a 2009 study Li’s subjects showed significant increases in NK cell activity in the week after a forest visit, and positive effects lasted a month following each weekend in the woods. …

“Experiments on forest bathing conducted by the Center for Environment, Health and Field Sciences in Japan’s Chiba University measured its physiological effects on 280 subjects in their early 20s. The team measured the subjects’ salivary cortisol (which increases with stress), blood pressure, pulse rate, and heart rate variability during a day in the city and compared those to the same biometrics taken during a day with a 30-minute forest visit. …

“Trees soothe the spirit too. A study on forest bathing’s psychological effects surveyed 498 healthy volunteers, twice in a forest and twice in control environments. The subjects showed significantly reduced hostility and depression scores, coupled with increased liveliness, after exposure to trees. …

“City dwellers can benefit from the effects of trees with just a visit to the park. Brief exposure to greenery in urban environments can relieve stress levels.”

More here. Be sure to watch the video.

Hat tip: Paul Kelly on Facebook.

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Photo: Biosphoto/Ardea/Caters News Agency
New energy generator may not be as attractive as a tree, but it’s also not as noisy as a standard wind turbine.

While you and I are just bopping along following our familiar routines, it’s reassuring to know that inventors are out there inventing.

Victoria Woollaston writes for the Daily Mail about one inventor who may help reduce global warming by making the use of wind turbines more widespread.

She says, “Monstrous, noisy conventional wind turbines may soon be a thing of the past thanks to tree-shaped wind turbines being installed in Paris. …

“French company ‘New Wind’ is installing the first at Place de la Concorde in Paris and is hoping to expand throughout the country and abroad. The 26ft (8 metre) trees are fitted with 63 aeroleaves. Each one uses tiny blades inside the ‘leaves’ and can generate electricity in wind speeds as low as 4.5mph (7km/h), and regardless of the wind’s direction. …

“The company’s founder, Jérôme Michaud-Larivière, hopes the trees can be used to exploit small air currents flowing along buildings and streets, and could eventually be installed in people’s backgardens and urban centres. …

“The trees are also silent, so sound pollution would not be an issue — a major improvement from past designs. The trees currently retail at £23,500 ($33,670).

” ‘The idea came to me in a square where I saw the leaves tremble when there was not a breath of air,’ said Jérôme Michaud-Larivière, the founder of the Parisian start-up. …

“In the future Mr Michaud-Larivière hopes to develop a ‘perfect’ tree that has leaves with natural fibres, roots that could generate geothermal energy and ‘bark’ covered with photosensitive cells.”

Readers can probably guess what I love most about this invention: “The trees can be used to exploit small air currents flowing along buildings and streets.”  That sure fits with my mantra about small things adding up: “One and one and 50 make a million.” (Line adapted from Pete Seeger’s “One Man’s Hands.”)

More at the Daily Mail, here.

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The poet Marianne Moore once helped to save a special tree by writing a poem about it, proving that art is more powerful than apathy.

Maria Popova writes at Brain Pickings, “In 1867, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, once an American Revolution battlefield, opened its gates to a community hungry for a peaceful respite of wilderness amid the urban bustle. So intense was public enthusiasm that local residents began donating a variety of wildlife to fill the 585-acre green expanse, from ducks to deer. But the most unusual and enduring gift turned out to be a tree, donated by a man named A.G. Burgess and planted in 1872.

“This was no ordinary tree. Ulmus glabra ‘Camperdownii,’ better-known as Camperdown Elm, is a species unlike regular trees in that it cannot reproduce from a seed. The rare elm carries its irregularity on the outside — its majestic, knobby branches grow almost parallel to the ground, ‘weeping’ down. To ameliorate its reproductive helplessness, the Camperdown Elm requires outside help — a sort of assisted grafting, be it by accident of nature or intentional human hand. …

“As excitement over the novelty of Prospect Park began dying down, the Camperdown Elm came to suffer years of neglect. …

“But then, in the 1960s, it was saved by a force even more miraculous than that by which its Scottish great-great-grandfather had been born — not by a botanist or a park commissioner or a policymaker, but by a poet fifteen years the tree’s junior.

“The poet was Marianne Moore (November 15, 1887–February 5, 1972), who had been elected president of New York’s Greensward Foundation — an advocacy group for public parks — in 1965. This brilliant and eccentric woman … created a citizen group called Friends of Prospect Park, aimed at protecting the Camperdown Elm and other endangered trees in the park.

“In 1967, eighty at the time and with a Pulitzer Prize under her belt, Moore penned ‘The Camperdown Elm’ — a beautiful ode to this unusual, dignified, yet surprisingly fragile life-form of which humans are the only bastions. …

“Moore’s poem mobilized the Friends of Prospect Park to envelop the Camperdown Elm in attentive and nurturing care, which ultimately saved it.”

Read the poem and the rest of the story here.

Come to think of it, the Camperdown Elm’s reliance on humans to do the right thing make it very little different from the rest of the natural world.

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xmas-treeThis is the tree in my warm and cozy house. The tree in the picture below, a picture you may think is entirely black, is actually sitting all by itself on a river bank that floods in spring.

It makes me think of the carol about King Wenceslas, who “on the Feast of Stephen” (December 26) spied a poor man out in a blizzard and went with his page to take care of him. “Bring me flesh, and bring me wine; bring me pine logs hither: Thou and I will see him dine, when we bear them thither.”

The story goes that “heat was in the very sod that the saint had printed.”

Not being able to heat the sod underneath our feet (or command a page, for that matter), many of us consider sending a check to a food bank at this time of year. Still too many hungry people.

tree-on-river-bank

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Suzanne has found us two “vacation rentals by owner ” in the last six months: one on the West Coast and one on the East. Other than being just right in their own ways, they had little in common. Except for one curious thing.

They both featured trees covered with some kind of moss or lichen. What should we make of this coincidence?

In my West Coast post, I did a little research and found a site suggesting that the mosses and lichens in California had a symbiotic relationship with trees. Another site said, “Tree decline is often not a simple cause and effect relationship but sometimes a complex web of interacting factors.” So I still have no idea if lichens are good, bad, or indifferent.

Today I offer some pictures from Little Compton, Rhode Island, where one of the seven of us celebrated a special birthday this weekend.

BTW, if you are looking for sweet seaside towns that time forgot, try the Rhode Island Farm Coast.

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