Faculty of Forestry assistant professor Lorien Nesbitt is co-leading the Climate Change Health Effects, Adaptation and ResiLience (HEAL) network – one of 40 UBC research excellence clusters that recently received funding under the university’s Research Excellence Clusters Initiative.
Grouped under the emerging research clusters umbrella, HEAL aims to understand the compounding health effects of extreme weather events caused by climate change and develop adaptation strategies through a bio-cultural lens.
HEAL Network Will Collaborate On Health Effects Resulting from Climate Change
“My partner Chris Carlsten, who was the lead on the application, and I are very excited about getting this started and collaborating with researchers from across the university as well as other stakeholders who will be able to help us develop adaptation interventions that could ultimately reduce the health risks resulting from climate change,” says Nesbitt. “Importantly, we are prioritizing equity, community and the natural environment in our work, to sustainably and equitably promote adaptive solutions.”
An adaptation intervention, reports Nesbitt, could be, for example, tree planting and stewardship programs for youth, focused on biocultural diversity and growing urban forests. This kind of program would help improve urban forest health by training tree stewards, increasing urban forest canopy and its cooling effects, and helping youth experience the mental health and social cohesion benefits of spending time in nature.
About Lorien Nesbitt
No stranger to this area of research, Nesbitt has always made human health, climate change and environmental justice the central focus of her work. She is part of the Faculty’s Urban Forestry Research Hub whose primary vision is to help create more resilient and healthy urban communities by enhancing the way in which people access and manage urban forests.
“Studies are clearly showing what we already instinctively know – access to nature improves our wellbeing and overall health. That means we not only need to ensure there is fair and equitable access to green space for everyone but also figure out how we can help communities better cope with climate change and adverse health impacts.”
The World Health Organization has called “climate change the biggest health threat facing humanity” and reports climate change is already affecting populations around the globe in different ways including a noticeable increase in deaths due to an increasing number of extreme weather events.
About UBC’s Research Excellence Clusters
UBC’s Vice-President, Research & Innovation and the Provost & Vice-President Academic established the Grants for Catalyzing Research Clusters competition. All of the 40 research clusters that received funding are seeking to address key societal and cultural problems through an interdisciplinary approach.