Healthy forests benefit human health

Posted on 01 April 2022

A new WWF report shows forests provide huge health benefits, but urgent action is needed to safeguard them.

WWF has long called for action on deforestation and degradation of the world’s forests. So we are keen to share the findings of our new “Vitality of Forests” report, which brings together a mounting body of evidence on how human health depends on forests and why it is more important than ever to protect them.

The report shows that forests benefit human health in many ways. These include helping to prevent the emergence of infectious diseases that pass from animals to humans, which account for most recent epidemics including COVID-19.

Forests also play an essential role in supporting nutritional requirements – from providing wild foods for local communities to offering a home for the pollinators of many crops. They help lessen the impacts of natural hazards, including heat waves, floods and landslides. They clean polluted air and water, and spending time in forests can lower stress hormones and risks of cardiovascular disease.

Finally, the report highlights how forests have a vital role in reducing and adapting to the impacts of climate change, while also supporting the health and well-being of people.


The report outlines numerous actions needed to safeguard forests and promote human health. These include protecting forests by tackling the drivers of deforestation; improving forest management on working lands; restoring forests and creating new forests in urban areas; and encouraging experts in conservation and health to share learnings with each other.

Kerry Cesareo, WWF-US senior vice president for forests, said: “This report now outlines another compelling reason to safeguard forests: they are indispensable to human health. We can use these findings as a road map for collaboration across the health and environment sectors to help resolve public health issues ranging from emerging infectious diseases to mental well-being.”