ICTA-UAB to organize the sixth edition of the Summer School on Degrowth and Environmental Justice

Proposing pathways outside the growth, closure and depressive narratives.

Future changes in human well-being more likely to depend on Social Factors than Economic Factors

The changes in the perception of personal well-being that could take place in the next three decades, on a global level, depend much more on social factors than on economic ones.

Record-wet and record-dry months increased in regions worldwide: climate change drives rainfall extremes

More and more rainfall extremes are observed in regions around the globe – triggering both wet and dry records, according a new study involving ICTA-UAB researcher Finn Mempel.

Success at ICTA-UAB: Six ERC Grants In Three Years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded six European Research Council (ERC) grants in three years, from the end of 2015 to the end of 2018. Each project (of between 1.5 and 2 million euros) lasts for five years and allows the recruitment of a team of six or seven doctoral students and postdocs.

Learn to explain your research in 2 minutes and win the Elevator Pitch competition

The Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, IBB, INc and ICTA-UAB institutes announce a competition for the doctoral students and postdoctoral researchers at their centres.

ICTA-UAB researcher Gara Villalba receives an ERC Consolidator Grant

The European Research Council (ERC) announced the recipients of its Consolidator Grant competition: 291 top scientists across Europe.

The ICTA-UAB awarded an Erasmus+ for running a project on higher education and research in Biosphere Reserves

For the first time since its founding, the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded approximately 1 million euros by the European Commission through the Erasmus+ funding scheme.

ICTA-UAB contributes to bridging science and society in the 100xCiencia.3

ICTA-UAB took part in the 100xCiencia.3 “Bringing Science and Society”, the annual event of the SOMMa Alliance held on November 15th at the CNIO in Madrid.

Citizens prefer landscapes that combine nature with built infrastructure

A pioneering study analyses the photographs shared by citizens in social networks to evaluate the aesthetic consideration of natural landscapes.

Co-managed small-scale fisheries lead to social and ecological improvements

The co-management model of small groups of fishermen contributes to a greater abundance and habitats of species.

ICTA-UAB to design participative and concurred forest fire prevention strategies for the Montseny region

Scientists from the Institute for Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) aim to design prevention strategies for forest fires occurring in the Montseny Biosphere Reserve through a citizen participation process.

Nace El Observatorio del Besòs: un proyecto de seguimiento de la calidad de los sistemas fluviales de la cuenca

La Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) a través del Institut de Ciència i Tecnologia Ambientals (ICTA-UAB), y el Consorci Besòs Tordera evaluarán el estado de calidad a largo plazo de la cuenca del Besòs gracias a la creación de la Observatorio del Besòs.

Shift in large-scale Atlantic circulation causes lower-oxygen water to invade Canada's Gulf of St. Lawrence

The Gulf of St. Lawrence has warmed and lost oxygen faster than almost anywhere else in the global oceans.

Climate Change Modifies the Composition of Reefs

Corals devastated by climate change are being replaced naturally by other species such as gorgonians, which are less efficient in acting as a carbon sink.

ICTA-UAB launches the first master’s Degree in “Political Ecology. Degrowth and Environmental Justice”

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ICTA-UAB) launches the master’s Degree in “Political Ecology.

Pioneering study analyses the effects of forests on human health

A group of volunteers have participated in an experimental study conducted by the ICTA-UAB to analyse the potential health benefits of forests.

Marine Litter on Mediterranean Beaches Triples in Summer

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) analyses and quantifies the waste generated by tourists in eight islands of the Mediterranean as part of the European BLUEISLANDS project.

Mapping the Urban Vitality of Barcelona

Researchers at the UAB have mapped Barcelona and and 9 surrounding towns using a new methodology based on urbanism activist Jane Jacobs' ideas on how cities should be configured to become vital spaces: 25% of the area is classified as having high vitality.

Agricultural intensification not a “blueprint” for sustainable development

Social and ecological results of increased agricultural intensification are not as positive as expected.

Green urban planning must consider social equity criteria

Cities that do not include social equity criteria into their political strategies to make their urban environment greener and more ecological will not achieve long-term sustainability and risk creating green enclaves only for the social elite.

The ICTA-UAB alerts of a new invasive Asian beetle pest in Catalonia that kills mulberry trees

A study by researcher of the ICTA-UAB and the Department of Agriculture Víctor Sarto i Monteys has identified in the province of Barcelona the presence of a species from Asia that could spread through Europe.

More than 120 ICTA-UAB researchers addressed environmental challenges at a symposium, especially those arising from global and...

The Institut of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) organized its 1st Spring Symposium with the aim of addressing some of the main environmental and sustainability challenges.

Low-carbon energy transition requires more renewables than previously thought

A new study by ICTA-UAB analyzes the impacts on lifestyles of substituting fossil fuels for cleaner energies.

Climate Change Threatens World's Largest Seagrass Carbon Stores

Shark Bay seagrass carbon storage hotspot suffers alarming losses after a devastating marine heat wave, according to a study led by ICTA-UAB researchers.

Amazon's indigenous people hunt animals feeding in areas contaminated by oil spills

A study by the ICTA-UAB and the UAB Department of Animal Health and Anatomy demonstrates that the main species hunted by the indigenous popoulations of the Peruvian Amazon ingest water and soil contaminated with hidrocarbons and heavy metals.

The new Planttes app warns of allergy risks in different urban areas

The Planttes application is a citizen science project which aims to encourage people to identify and locate on a map the existence of allergy-causing plants and indicate their phenological state.

ICTA-UAB’s success: five ERC grants in two years

The Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB) has been awarded five European Research Council (ERC) grants in two years, which is about ten per cent of all ERC grants arriving in Catalonia over the period from the end of 2015 to the end of 2017.

New ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide'

The new ICTA-UAB 'Welcome Guide' it is at your disposal now. With this document, we aim to help you discover the basics of the PhD programme, ICTA-UAB’s structure, etc.
Research to study the health effects of forests

Date: 2017-11-14

mes Presentació projecte


The ICTA-UAB, CREAF and the "la Caixa" Bank Foundation recently presented the project "Healthy Forests for a Healthy Society". The multidisciplinary study combines experimental measures in forests and laboratories, drone technology and citizen participation.

Àngel Font, Corporate Director of Research and Strategy at the ”la Caixa” Bank Foundation; Martí Boada, professor and researcher at the Institute of Environmental Science and Technology of the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (ICTA-UAB), and Jordi Vayreda, researcher at the Centre for Ecological Research and Forestry Applications (CREAF), recently presented a pioneering project entitled "Healthy Forests for a Healthy Society". The research study will not only analyse the role forests play as a potential source of health, but also how the state of health of forest masses can have effects on the health of humans. 

The research, which is the result of a growing social and scientific interest in the effects being in contact with nature can have on our health, will be based on an experimental line and on a participative one. The first line will be directed by the ICTA-UAB and its objective it to learn about how forests can influence the health of a person. With this in mind, researchers will visit forests of the Montseny to analyse the active principles sent out by plants, and in which way these interact with our health. In a later phase, they will measure whether the maturity of the forest, and other characteristics, can cause a variation in these chemical substances and how these substances are incorporated and metabolised within the human body after spending time inside a forest. 

The CREAF will study the forests' current state of health and how this may change in a warmer and drier future, as foreseen by scientists. To do so, they will use a citizen science platform known as Alerta Forestal. Thus, a network of forest guards will be created with the aim of taking pictures and sharing them via mobile if the detect any forest affected by the processionary moth, drought, wind or snow; essential information needed to obtain data in real time and in great detail. The project will also incorporate the participation of drone users. These devices can photograph large areas and in great detail. They can even create 3D models, which until recently was unthinkable. This information will serve to create and improve mathematical models which can help to predict the future state of forests and how the relation between forests and humans may vary. "Forests provide such beneficial services and effects, and are so necessary that one can affirm that life in the city would be far worse if we did not have them close by", explains CREAF researcher Jordi Vayreda.
The Montseny mountain range, a natural laboratory for the study of forests and health effects
The experimental part of the research will take place in the Mediterranean forests of holm oaks, cork oaks, pines and in beech tree forests, in areas of the Montseny Natural Park - Biosphere Reserve. This area was chosen for its biodiversity and because it is one of the most visited parks of Catalonia, and the results will be comparable to other regions. Air samples will be taken in order to analyse the chemical substances emitted by the plants of each forest. These will later be tested for maturity, composition of species and other characteristics which can cause variations in the concentrations of these substances. In one of the project's later phases, the research will focus on determining how these chemical substances enter and are metabolised by the human body after a walk in the woods. 

The interest in this subject has led to a large variety of activities taking place in natural environments, such as forest baths; activities which until now have not been proven experimentally to have any effects. This project will be the first to try and prove it. According to researchers, this study aims to understand the chemical and physiological mechanisms behind the direct effect forests can have on human health. "We are not going to focus on the forest as a place to go when one is ill”, says ICTA-UAB researcher Albert Bach, “what we intend on discovering experimentally is what happens to anybody who comes in contact with the most common volatile organic compounds emitted by the plants found in our forests", he explains. 

Citizens as forest guards
Starting now, all those who visit forests and carry a smartphone, or who like flying drones and taking photographs, can visit the website of Alerta Forestal and notify them on areas which are affected by drought, plagues or strong winds. Until now, part of this information was already collected very accurately thanks to the dedication and expert criteria of rural agents. These campaigns, however, are always of limited duration and sometimes nature reveals the effects of droughts later than expected. For this reason, having an alternative system of alerts in collaboration with citizens will be a highly interesting addition to the information already available, even if it is not of the same precision. 

A drought-affected forest or one suffering from a plague, such as the processionary moth, offers worse conditions for walking and other activities than forests which are in a good state of health. For this reason, in order to plan out healthy routes it is necessary to know precisely where the healthy and less healthy forests can be found. In addition, it is necessary to understand the changes in health of the forests depending on the local climate, slope, orientation, forest structure and the existence or absence of management. 

All this information will be put together and mathematical models will be used to predict which areas will be the healthiest in the near future, taking into account the ever-changing global environmental and climatic conditions. 

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