For the 4th consecutive year, REI announced it will be closed on Black Friday, but this year’s announcement featured other big news: REI is partnering with the University of Washington to study the effects nature has on health, contributing $1 million.

The microbiomes of tree roots contain novel molecules that have the potential to be used in antibiotics or anti-cancer drugs, as well as for agricultural purposes. In the study, the microbe communities in and around tree roots were ten times more diverse than those found in the human microbiome.

Researchers studying Hansen Creek in Alaska have been removing dead sockeye salmon from the stream and throwing them on the same bank for the last 20 years. It turns out the dead fish have fertilized the white spruces on the bank, causing them to grow faster than their counterparts across the stream.

California’s trees have been suffering and dying for several years, but even with droughts abated, bark beetles still pose a significant threat to higher-elevation trees. The silver lining is that the thinning forests are allowing surviving trees to become stronger due to reduced competition.

Since 2007, the Isle of Man has cleaned up its beaches and earned Unesco status as a world leader in ocean protection. Seagrass beds, which store high levels of carbon, are thriving, and fishermen are working with environmentalists to protect scallops. The community that has formed on the island around protecting the oceans could be a role model for others worldwide.

Mass timber, layers of 3-to-5-inch boards laid upon each other in cross-grain fashion, can be used to build skyscrapers, offices and myriad other structures, decreasing the need for non-renewable resources like steel. Building wooden structures also decreases noise and air pollution from construction, but are wooden skyscrapers really in our future?