The more diverse the trees in city parks, the higher the immunity among citizens. This conclusion was made by scientists from the University of Adelaide, the results of their research are published in Restoration Ecology.
The vegetation of green spaces in cities can improve the diversity of soil microbiota to a more natural state, and this, in turn, has a positive effect on human health.
Researchers compared the composition of different types of urban green spaces with varying levels of vegetation diversity, including lawns, vacant lots, parkland, marshy forests, and residual forests in one of the municipalities of Playford in South Australia.
The purpose of the study was to understand: is it possible to restore the microbiome of urban green spaces. This process is also known as microbiome rewiling. According to scientists, it is rewilding that will expose citizens to interact with a large number of microorganisms that make up the microbiota, which means that they will develop the immune system in humans with greater intensity.
Jacob Mills of the University of Adelaide Institute of Biological Sciences and the Environment says that historically people lived in rural and wild landscapes, and children spent more time outdoors, which allowed them to be exposed to more germs.
“Urbanization has radically changed our childhood. More time spent indoors, lower-quality diets, and less exposure to the wild have led to a significant increase in noncommunicable diseases such as poor respiratory health”, says Jacob.
“Exposure to a biodiversity-rich natural environment brings ecological benefits – green areas with a higher ecosystem function give children a better opportunity to contact the soil, which in turn contains microbial compounds that reduce stress and anxiety. Simply put, the greater the diversity in microbiota, the more healthy the children are, ”the scientist adds.
The study showed that green areas with the remnants of local forests contain more native plant species than plantations – lawns, vacant lots, and hence a greater variety of microbiota. Soil microbiota in green urban areas were similar to those found in residual forests and was very different from lawns and vacant sites, which had a smaller variety of microbiota.
“This indicates that the soil microbiome of the soil mass has somewhat recovered to its former more natural state of biodiversity,” Jacob states. – The richness of plant species, soil pH and electrical conductivity were the main variables for the analysis of microbial communities in our study. Urban spaces with a low microorganism content are generally more favorable for pathogens and pests. also known as microbial “weeds”. Increasing the diversity of plant species is important for the structure of microbial communities and enhances the function of the ecosystem. ”
“Increasing biodiversity can lead to lower levels of noncommunicable diseases by improving the preparedness of our immune system to fight diseases,” the scientist concludes.