Scientist to explain in New Paltz how tree-hugging is good for you

Diana Beresford-Kroger

Can a scientist be “esteemed” by her peers and considered a “renegade” at the same time? Diana Beresford-Kroger thinks so. The visionary scientist/author/filmmaker also thinks that trees can save us from ourselves, if we preserve enough of them and plant the right species in the right places: a process that she calls “bioplanning.” She’ll be speaking about her latest book, The Sweetness of a Simple Life: Tips for Healthier, Happier and Kinder Living Gleaned from the Wisdom and Science of Nature, this Sunday afternoon at the Inquiring Minds bookstore in New Paltz.

Born in England and currently a resident of Ontario, Beresford-Kroger was raised in the Scots/Irish Druidic spiritual tradition and brings that sense of awe for the natural world into her approach to environmental science. She has degrees in both Botany and Medical Biochemistry, so when she advocates for things like planting trees whose chemical compounds have known antiviral properties around hospitals, this isn’t just airy-fairy Findhorn stuff; her proposals have science backing them up.

Beresford-Kroger makes a persuasive case that there are sound evolutionary reasons, survival reasons, why our spirits get a lift from a walk in the woods. She contends that tree-hugging is literally good for you, because physical contact with trees stimulates the release of a compound called beta-ionone that, inhaled or absorbed through the skin, can act to switch off cancer-causing genes. Some tree types are directly beneficial to human health; others remove toxic pollutants like mercury from the environment; all sequester carbon from the atmosphere and manufacture oxygen.

So Beresford-Kroger writes books, makes films, tours and lectures in a passionate campaign for protection of the world’s forests and deeper scientific study of the medicinal properties of trees, not discounting the lore accumulated over centuries of experience by indigenous cultures. Her previous books – The Global Forest, A Garden for Life, Arboretum Borealis and Arboretum America – have been widely praised for that rare quality of translating the complexities of hard science into graceful language that is accessible to the lay reader.

Hear Diana Beresford-Kroger read from The Sweetness of a Simple Life beginning at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 26 at the Inquiring Minds Bookstore located at 6 Church Street in New Paltz. Admission is free. Call (845) 255-8300 for more information about the event. To learn more about the author, visit


Diana Beresford-Kroger reading, Sunday, April 26, 4 p.m., free, Inquiring Minds Bookstore, 6 Church Street, New Paltz; (845) 255-8300.



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