With so much uncertainty going on right now, what we need more than ever is a big hug. Of course, that’s the opposite of social distancing so we can’t go around hugging people outside our home, but we can still feel the joy by giving a tree a big ol’ hug.
Be well and hug a tree today! Hugging a tree makes us feel better. It can help us feel calmer, grounded, more connected to Mother Nature and remind us of the interconnectedness of life: trees absorb carbon and release oxygen; we breathe in oxygen and exhale carbon. We’re perfect partners!
Even better, hug a tree and upload your picture hugging a tree (or a plant if stuck indoors) with the hashtag #hugatreenotme and #forestswithoutfrontiers. To encourage people to connect to nature and feel connected to each other, Forests Without Frontiers (FWF) started the ‘HUG A TREE NOT ME’ campaign during lockdown when we couldn’t hug each other. FWF had over 100 people posting pictures – and planted a tree for everyone who took part. FWF is still running the campaign – when you post a picture, please donate to plant a tree (£2), and FWF will match it and plant another one for free too! Donate here Start Planting Trees, Make a Donation — Forests Without Frontiers
Hug a tree for 5 minutes … breathe in the smells, feel the way the tree presses against you, feel its energy, and listen to the sounds. Some studies have suggested that forest bathing and tree-hugging might even work because of chemicals the tree emits known as phytoncides. These chemicals may have physiological effects that explain why hugging trees and immersing ourselves in nature can be beneficial for our health. Forest bathing has been found to improve memory and concentration, reduce blood pressure and lower cortisol levels. In Japan, it is known as shinrin-yoku and has been offered in the national health program since 1982; and it involves leaving behind all devices to detox from technology and mindfully spending time under the tree’s canopies. View NOW Guide to Forest Bathing.
A behavioural study show that looking at nature can brighten our mood and often inspire feelings of awe which changes our sense of self and reduces the barriers we feel between ourselves and others. It fosters altruistic behavior – showing concern for the happiness and welfare of other people rather than ourselves – and being close to nature will accentuate these effects. So let’s get up close and personal.
World Environment Day 2020 is time for nature. From the foods we eat, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that makes our planet habitable, we are dependent on nature. To care for ourselves, we must care for nature. It’s time to wake up. To take notice. To raise our voices. To do more. And to do better.
NOTE FROM NOW FOUNDER
“Forest restoration is the best climate change solution available today. That does not alter the vital importance of protecting existing forests and phasing out fossil fuels since new forests would take decades to mature” said Tom Crowther, a researcher at ETH Zürich, and senior author “The Global Tree Restoration Potential Report” published in Science in July 2019 . The report found that there is enough suitable land to increase the world’s forest cover by one-third without affecting existing cities or agriculture. However, the amount of suitable land area diminishes as global temperatures rise. Even if global warming is limited to 1.5 degrees Celsius, the area available for forest restoration could be reduced by a fifth by 2050 because it would be too warm for some tropical forests.
According to the World Economic Forum Covid Action Platform, natural habitats are being reduced, causing species to live in closer quarters than ever to one another and to humans. As some people opt to invade forests and wild landscapes due to business interests and others at the other end of the socioeconomic spectrum are forced to search for resources for survival, we damage the ecosystems, risking that viruses from animals find new hosts – us. Given our interconnected and ever-changing world, with air travel, wildlife marketing and a changing climate, the potential for further more serious outbreaks than Covid-19 remains significant. It is human activity – not nature – that causes pandemics.
It is also human activity that can save us. We are the solution.