Hi, my name is Mick. The land I am looking after is in a registered historic park and garden and was designed in the Georgian period as a ‘forest garden’.
Having trained as a forest bathing guide and a forest therapy practitioner with EFTI my plan is to build these practices into the day to day management of our woodlands for the benefit of people and nature. Our aim is for our forests to be accredited as therapeutic forests and we have developed a motto; ‘big enough to make a difference, good enough to copy’.
We have several forest engagement initiatives that will be taking shape in 2020 and I hope my regular blogs with EFTI will help people connect, engage and learn from what we are doing.
Our plans for 2020 include building a self-led permanent forest bathing trail, establishing a regular social forestry programme and developing our on-site residential woodland activity centre to be more focused on connecting people with nature.
One important project for nature connectivity this year will be our Power of Bugs Project which will focus on specialist surveys of our designated Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). This will help us to develop a species baseline to aid our habitat management practices. To compliment this, we are creating a Bug Lab in our Wildlife Room so that visitors can get up close and personal with the mini-beasts that inhabit the forest and ponds to grow their interest and understanding.
We will also welcome back the EFTI England Training in September and with the forest bathing students being residential on-site, we aim to compliment the training with creative elements delivered by our Ranger Team. These will include specialist led evening bat walks, badger safaris and plant trails to top up students personal connections to nature.
We even have a resident holistic therapist who offers treatments in the wood fire heated woodland bothy, this could add a relaxing element to the forest bathing training, watch this space!
✓ Mick Wilkes is a Certified Forest Bathing Guide and Certified Forest Therapy Practitioner by the Forest Therapy Institute. He is the General Manager of a National Trust estate in North East England.