- EXECUTIVE CIRCLE -
Programmes & Research Coordinator
Ireland & England Institute Coordinator
Shirley Gleeson lives in Dublin and is a Nature and Wellbeing Consultant and the founder of Ecowellness Consulting Limited, formerly known as Nature, Health & Wellbeing Ireland. She holds master’s degrees in both health promotion and social work and has over twenty years of experience working in the areas of health and social care in the public and private sector. She designs nature-based interventions to improve and enhance people's health and well-being and facilitates nature-based training for mental health professionals.
Shirley was the first Certified Forest Therapy Guide in Europe, after completing her training in the US with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT) in 2014. She was a mentor and trainer with the ANFT and has mentored guides from all over the world.
She has extensive postgraduate training in ecotherapy, expressive arts therapy, counselling, stress management, dialectical behavioural therapy skills, behavioural family therapy and therapeutic use of mindfulness.
Shirley has presented her forest therapy research and practice at international conferences in Ireland, Greece, Switzerland, the UK and Austria and recently addressed the United Nations in Geneva on the topic of forests and human health. She trained as a nature guide with Eco Training in South Africa and has completed an internship with the South African National Parks.
Shirley has a deep love and respect for nature, especially trees.
Programmes & Training Coordinator
Ibero-American Institute Coordinator
Spain & Portugal Coordinator
Alex is based between Barcelona and Lisbon and is the founder of the Instituto de Baños de Bosque (Spain) and the Instituto de Banhos de Floresta de Portugal. He collaborated as a consultant specialist in the Expert Group on Human Health and Well-Being to the Forest Europe - Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe.
He is a Public Health and Forests advisor for CONAF - Ministry of Agriculture of Chile, which has the mission of contributing to the development of the country through the sustainable management of forest ecosystems and the components of nature associated with them. Since 2017, he has been an adviser to the Union of Foresters of Southern Europe (USSE), a European Economic Interest Grouping (EEIG), uniting forester organizations from Portugal, Spain, the Basque Country, Aquitaine and Greece.
Alex is the author of "Sentir el bosque: La experiencia del Shinrin-Yoku (Baño de Bosque)" (Feel the Forests: the experience of Shinrin-Yoku), Grijalbo (Penguin Random House Editorial Group).
As opposed to the daily stress of urban life, he facilitates and develops nature connection techniques so that all people can experience the health benefits of natural environments.
He develops programmes for companies and organizations in the continuous practice of stress reduction, burnout syndrome prevention, improvement of the well-being of workers and stimulation of creativity and teamwork. He is committed to promoting this practice to support everyone to surpass their established limits and improve their well-being.
Alex developed the KIDS & Forest programme for adolescents at risk of social exclusion, where he worked with different institutions for the engagement of young people.
He has participated in events and training in Spain, Sweden, Finland, Portugal, Italy, Ireland, France, United Kingdom, Slovenia, Austria, Croatia, Slovakia, Costa Rica, Chile, Argentina, USA and Australia, among other locations.
He is trained in business management, sociology, non-verbal communication and leadership. He holds an E-MBA by EAE Business School of Barcelona. Also, he attended the Certified Forest Therapy Guide training in the USA with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT). He was the first ANFT European-based guide, training and mentoring guides from all over the world.
He has been featured and interviewed in different countries by: TVE 1, RNE, TV 5, Antena 3, Condé Nast Traveler, Euronews, Irish Times, BBC, Mercurio, A24, XL Semanal, El Periodico, La Vanguardia, Huffpost, On Barcelona, Betevé, Diari Ara, El Mundo, El Diario Vasco, Burgos Conecta, Revista Cuerpo y Mente, TimeOut, Lecturas, RTP, SIC Mulher, TVI, Público, Visão, Pais, Sábado, A nossa Prima, Revista Calm, Revista Saber Viver, Revista Q, Diario de Burgos, Norwegian Airlines Magazine, among other media.
- INSTITUTES CIRCLE -
Trainer & Mentor
France Institute Coordinator
Jacques has been involved in the field of nature protection and social work for the last twenty years. Nature has always played an important part in his life, tracing memories back on his childhood, when he used to go walking and foraging in the woods, with one of his grandfathers.
He has been offering walks and nature connected services to the general public, as well as to some institutions and associations.
He often works with partners such as yoga teachers, Qi Qong & Mindfulness practitioners, for instance, to have thematic days based on forest bathing with a broader scope in terms of content.
His engagement has seen different stages. The most important part has been as the founder and director of an organic market garden in link with a network, known in France as "Jardin de Cocagne". For almost 15 years, he managed and developed this activity, which aimed to help people with social & health difficulties to re/integrate work environments.
During that time, he set up two market gardens on two different locations. The initial one, was dedicated to the production of organic vegetables and herbs, while the other was solely flower growing. As such, it was one of the two first sites in France, known as "Fleurs de Cocagne", to produce organic cut-flowers, used to create and sell original bunches of flowers, directly to customers.
Prior to that, he worked as a marketing executive, in England, for an innovative start-up company, involved in the design, production and selling of mobile earth satellites.
Jacques holds a Master of Arts in Marketing, as well as Master of Management in Social & Solidarity Entities (DESS). He also possesses a CELTA qualification through the Cambridge English Teaching Framework.
In completion of his main diplomas, he trained in permaculture and as a sound therapist. He practices yoga and meditation on a regular basis, and occasionally some Qi Qong.
Jacques is a Certified Forest Bathing Guide by the Forest Therapy Institute (FTI). In 2016, following his training in Ireland with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy, he became the first Certified Forest Therapy Practitioner in France.
Trainer & Mentor
Scotland Institute Coordinator
Caitlin Keddie is the founder of Forest Therapy Scotland, and became Scotland’s first certified Nature & Forest Therapy Guide in 2017. Caitlin lives in Glasgow and offers Forest Bathing through public and private events around Scotland.
Having had a close relationship with the natural world throughout her childhood, Caitlin has been interested in natural health and well-being all her life. For the last 8 years, Caitlin has been working with Scotland’s oldest herbal establishment Napiers the Herbalists. She was director and manager of their busy multi-disciplinary health clinic and herbal apothecary in Glasgow, and now runs Napiers Bathgate, a community interest company (CIC) set up to make natural medicine and health education more accessible for local communities. Caitlin is passionate about holistic health and well-being, and is a strong advocate for spending time in nature for mental health, as well as physiological health.
Caitlin’s focus is on creating a safe, supportive and accessible space where people can enhance their well-being through mindful connection with nature, giving participants all the tools necessary to create a deep and long-lasting relationship with the natural world and their local community. Caitlin also loves to share her wide knowledge of plants and their many health benefits on her guided walks.
Caitlin’s work has featured on BBC Landward, BBC Radio Scotland’s ‘Out of Doors’ and ‘Kaye Adams’ programmes, the Herald Scotland, the Scottish Sun, the Holistic Scotland Magazine, as well as various radio discussions on nature for mental health.
Caitlin is a Certified Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy Guide by the Forest Therapy Institute. Also a Certified Forest Therapy Guide by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT).
Claudio M. Vasquez
Trainer & Mentor
Chile Institute Coordinator
Ibero-American Institute Co-Coordinator
Claudio is responsible for the Instituto de Baños de Bosque (Chile). Founder of Bosque para Ti, pioneer of Forest Bathing practice in South America.
He is a Forest Bathing Adviser for the Department of Protected Areas of CONAF, Ministry of Agriculture of Chile.
He facilitates and develops techniques of connection with nature to improve employees' health benefits through natural environments. Claudio develops programmes for companies and organizations in stress management, employee well-being and stimulation of creativity and teamwork.
With its operations centre in Valdivia, where his projects are developed under the eaves of the Valdivian rainforest.
Certified Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy Guide by the Forest Therapy Institute. He is also a Forestry Consultant, Technician in Risk Prevention and Environment, Engineer in Risk Prevention, Master Student in Occupational Hygiene, (E) Diploma in Ecotourism. He has been mentioned and/or interviewed; Radio El Conquistador where he actively participates in the Gen Viajero programme; Diario La Tercera, Diario La Segunda and Publimetro.
Poland Key Contact Person
Katarzyna Simonienko is a psychiatrist, a medical practitioner and a scientific researcher, PhD in psychiatry. She works at the Mental Health Hospital in Choroszcz, in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical University of Bialystok and in outpatient services in Bialystok, Poland. She is a Certified Forest Therapy Practitioner by FTI.
She works in the fields of different mental health diseases and stress prophylaxis as well. She is a founder of the first medical forest bathing centre in Poland: Centrum Terapii Lasem/Forest Therapy Centre PL. From 2018, she is a licensed guide of the Białowieża National Park. She is a member of the Japanese shinrin-yoku organization INFOM (International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine). Currently, she runs forest therapy workshops, leads shinrin-yoku walks in Poland, she also promotes medical knowledge in the field of forest therapy on scientific conferences, in medical journals and in the media in Poland and abroad.
She paints, photographs wildlife and runs a Facebook fanpage "Zapuszczeni/Beforested" about nature, and "Galeria Silva" about her art. She is interested in herbal medicine, old stories, different worlds, archetypes, fairy tales, legends, old European cultures (Celts, Slavs, Vikings), tribal cultures and related ethnopsychiatry.
"The forest is a huge, wise book, from which we can learn many useful things. It is a work of original and unmanageable art. A living organism, a pharmacy, a palpable arrangement of bubble worlds and a friend. A bag of fairy tales, a source of archetypes, fears and comforts. The Context. That’s why I am here."
North America Institute Coordinator
As an experienced early childhood educator, Swedish-born Oskar Elmgart leads Treebath’s children’s programmes. Oskar created Treebath’s sustainability curriculum, loosely based on a successful 60-year old Swedish after-school programme he attended as a child. Oskar applied his aptitude for a student-directed teaching style to develop a programme that encourages hands-on learning and a life-long respect for our natural environment. Oskar is committed to instilling both empathy and structure in the lives of his own children as well as those he teaches.
With a Master’s of Science and time in the Swedish Royal Marines, Oskar is accustomed to spending time outside regardless of the weather. He strives to instil in both children and adults the joy of nature that humans so naturally crave.
Oskar works with schools, school districts, and local government to provide customised outdoor programming that combats the growing number of health concerns in children attributed to a lack of green time, such as poor concentration, lack of focus, childhood obesity, ADHD, and decreased vision development. Oskar aims to ensure all of today’s children are afforded the proven health and wellness -benefits of “green time”.
Oskar has been interviewed and featured in a variety of publications including National Wildlife Magazine, CNBC, and Swedish NPR. Oskar is a co-author of the forthcoming children’s book "A Bath Without bubbles: Rowan & Jake’s First Treebath."
Nicole Joy Elmgart
North America Institute Coordinator
With her dedication to a life-long appreciation for Nature, Nicole formed Treebath after becoming certified as a Forest Therapy Guide in 2017. Partner and head of the cyber security practice at a New York-based Law Firm, Nicole turned her fifteen years of experience as an attorney towards building this nature-based start-up.
Deeply woven into her work and every-day life is a strong affinity for helping people. Nicole finds gratitude in providing the Japanese practice of "shinrin-yoku" to those who need it most. Whether it be helping stressed teens release and reconnect with nature, aiding those who suffer from substance abuse, rejuvenating overstressed employees, or instilling wellness in elderly or veterans, Nicole aims to heal and improve overall wellness for all walks of life.
Nicole develops programmes for corporate clients, individual schools, school districts, universities, and government organizations to address a variety of needs including reducing employees stress, combating the lack of recess and outdoor time in city schools, and improving focus and attention disorders.
Nicole has been interviewed and featured in a variety of publications including Elle Magazine, CNBC, and Big Apple Parent. Nicole is also co-author of the forthcoming children’s book "A Bath Without bubbles: Rowan & Jake’s First Treebath".
Italy Institute Coordinator
Marco Nieri is a bio-researcher and an expert on habitat health. He began working as an expert in bio-ecological design of living and working environments, using the most vital knowledge of East and West, aware of the circular relationship between Man and Environment.
Driven by the desire to deepen the knowledge of our habitat, for over fifteen years he has closely collaborated with Dr. Walter Kunnen of Antwerp (Belgium), who in 1960 founded "Archibo Biologica", an independent scientific research centre on the Biosphere and the energetic influences exerted on living organisms by natural and artificial electromagnetism, a reference point for hundreds of doctors and naturopaths from all over Europe. This experience led him to special research to study plant bio-electromagnetism and its influence on the human organism. Thus he elaborated the "Bioenergetic Landscapes", an innovative technique with which he creates bioenergetic parks and gardens to benefit human beings.
He collaborates with Marco Mencagli to deepen the themes of Forest Medicine with multidisciplinary studies, and to apply this new research in the creation of scientifically based Forest Bathing paths in Italy and abroad. Together they wrote the book "The Secret Therapy of Trees", ed. Penguin Random House, 2019, also published in Italy and France. Marco also published the book: "Bioenergetic Landscape", ed. Sistemi Editoriali, Italy, 2009. Articles, interviews and reviews on his work and research are constantly published in the Italian and foreign press.
Marco is a Certified Forest Bathing Guide by the Forest Therapy Institute (FTI).
Belgium Institute Coordinator
Ann Tilman integrates health, nature connection, art, stress handling, divergent thinking, performance coaching and team dynamics. As the founder of Foresterra, she offers nature-based experiences in Belgium and Italy. By connecting people, nature and culture, she stimulates ecotourism and transformative learning as an ultimate inspiration for meaningful changes in our life and the world.
Ann has over 20 years of HR experience in life sciences and arts. As an HR director, she specialises in organizational development, value creation and culture building as well as aligning people practices with growth objectives. To deal with psychosocial well-being, work-life balance, stress and burnout she advocates mindfulness in nature, self-leadership, appreciative inquiry, feedback culture and yoga breaks. Her professional development can be characterized by a belief in pragmatism leading to intelligent practice. She is convinced that people are capable of more than they think. Her main challenge in life is to stimulate people to explore and use their full potential.
Ann holds a Master in Roman Philology and International Affairs. She is a keen yogi and qi gong practitioner and trained in mindfulness. To her, nature is a place for healing and personal growth. Ann is a Certified Forest Bathing Guide by the Forest Therapy Institute (FTI).
In 2018 she completed her training with the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT) and became the first Certified Forest Therapy Guide in Belgium. She designs introduction workshops, self-care and corporate wellness programmes for individuals, teams and organizations.
Denmark Institute Coordinator
Lisa Klint is trained as an FTI Forest Bathing Guide, Forest Therapy Practitioner and is an FTI apprentice trainer and founded FTI Denmark local institute. She is a nature and mental health trainer and consultant and the founder of Center for Fokus in Denmark.
Lisa lives north of Copenhagen in an area covered by forest and close to the ocean. To Lisa her local natural surroundings together with a strong daily mindfulness practice are her ways of balancing her various roles as consultant in work life balance, workplace well-being & stress prevention and as speaker, trainer and mental health specialist.
Lisa provides executive coaching, counselling and personal leadership programmes. She designs nature and mindfulness-based interventions to prevent stress and burnout, improve motivation and people’s health and well-being and enhance focus for both corporate and public sector.
Lisa has served as executive director and manager for more than 20 years and holds various board positions e.g. on the board of the Danish Mindfulness Association and Severin Conference Centre. She is praised for her combination of using her corporate background with behavioural therapy skills, compassionate leadership programmes, mindfulness, forest therapy, and an entrepreneurial and creative mindset.
Furthermore, Lisa has experience in business development, retention and management and is motivated by helping her clients in their unique situation.
Lisa is a former Executive Director of MusikZonen, Business Development Director of CPH:DOX, General Manager of BestCities Global Alliance, Convention Marketing Director of Wonderful Copenhagen and Marketing Manager of Danish Convention Bureau. She was Managing Partner Europe for Meaningful Journey, India.
Lisa holds a degree in marketing, tourism development, MBSR teacher from Centre for Mindfulness, University of Massachusetts and University of Aarhus and well a Certificate in Behavioural Analysis, Motivation Factor and certified in test tools that provide an easier access to greater insight.
She regularly attends mindfulness retreats, seminars and conferences to be on par with the latest research in mental health and facilitates her own mindfulness and forest bathing retreats.
Lithuania Key Contact Person
She is a Certified Forest Bathing Guide by FTI.
Mila is also an experienced translator; she collaborates with the independent publishing house "Dvi Tylos/Two Silences" and this year together with a colleague she translated the book "Shinrin-Yoku: the Art and Science of Forest Bathing" by dr. Qing Li into Lithuanian language.
She guides walks in urban forests of Vilnius and other Lithuanian forests. Mila is one of the organizers of the annual Forest Festival which takes place in Anyksciai town; in 2019 during the festival she coordinated Forest Therapy day – a whole day dedicated to forest bathing and therapy.
A local institute is an individual, company or organization that is authorised to provide the FTI Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy training in a specific country or area of influence. Local institutes are also champions for the practice in their home countries. Becoming a local FTI Institute is an excellent opportunity for enterprising people who are passionate about nature, well-being and human health.