New study in PNAS Nexus

We examine the empirical relationship between having forests and trees in the surroundings and the probability of children consuming nutritious foods. We do so by combining detailed tree cover estimates based on PlanetScope imagery (3 m resolution) with Demographic Health Survey data from >15,000 households.

We find that even low levels of tree cover improve the likelihood of children aged 12–59 months consuming vitamin A–rich foods. Moreover, we observe that the effects of tree cover vary across poverty levels and ecoregions. The poor are more likely than the non-poor to consume vitamin A–rich foods at low levels of tree cover in the lowland forest-savanna ecoregions, whereas the difference between poor and non-poor is less pronounced in the Sahel-Sudan. These results highlight the importance of trees and forests in sustainable food system transformation, even in areas with sparse tree cover.