• HUMAN WELL-BEING, ECOSYSTEM SERVICES AND WATERSHED MANAGEMENT

      Bunch, Martin (Canadian Water Network, 2015)
      Human health and well-being are intrinsically linked to ecosystem services. Ecosystem services can be described as “the benefits people obtain from ecosystems,”1 and include lower health care costs, improved water quality or reduced energy costs. For example, the shade and wind-breaking effects created from planting more trees and vegetation can lead to decreased energy use and decreased costs for heating and cooling, as well as a decrease in the severity of floods.2,3,4 Improved air and water quality can lead to a decrease in health care costs due to fewer water-borne illnesses and better respiratory health.5 In Toronto alone, the health perception of planting an additional 10 trees in a city block is equivalent to living in a community with an increase of $10,000 income for every household in that block, and the health benefits are comparable to adding 7 years onto someone’s life.6 It seems that residents’ perception of such improvements in their health is related to the visual and accessible presence of trees (which can reduce stress, improve mood, lower blood pressure, etc.) and the effect that trees have on improving air quality.