Forest Therapy Institute was privileged to recently partner with Scottish Forestry (Scottish government agency responsible for forestry policy, support, and regulation) to offer Forest Bathing Guide training to health, environmental, and social care practitioners throughout Scotland. This partnership is especially important to FTI as Scottish Forestry are world class leaders in the area of forests and human health research and practice. They introduced “Branching Out”, a 12-week programme of therapeutic activities in the forest to support positive mental health, to the world.
The plan is for these recently trained Guides to offer Forest Bathing programmes to the communities that need it, to promote social inclusion, reduce health inequalities and enhance positive mental health at a time when community resilience needs to be strengthened.
In addition, FTI’s Executive Directors (Shirley Gleeson and Alex Gesse) and Kevin Lafferty (Access, Health & Recreation Advisor of Scottish Forestry) have been working on a joint publication that highlights the health and wellbeing benefits of Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy, the science behind these practices, and guidence on Forest Bathing for land managers and health care practitioners.The joint publication includes a thorough description of the latest scientific research on the health benefits of Forest Bathing. It describes the latest findings after monitoring physiological conditions in participants and hormone levels in their saliva or blood, as well as qualitative, self-reported measurements of participants’ mood and attitude.
It is hoped that FTI and Scottish Forestry will work together to further the professionalism of the practice and research in this area and that this is the beginning of a strong partnership that will get Forest Bathing to the individuals and communities that really need it.