The First Iberoamerican Congress on Nature-based Health and Wellbeing Practices.

The First Iberoamerican Congress on Nature-based Health and Wellbeing Practices was organized by Forest Therapy Institute and the National Forest Corporation of the government of Chile (Conaf). It’s been a historic meeting with 26 speakers from Spain, South Africa, Chile, Portugal, Brazil, Colombia, Ireland, Peru -including the Awajuny Wampis Naw nation- and the US.

More than two thousand people from 28 countries attended the presentations and workshops in this online three-day Congress called “Towards a common resilience”.

Thanks to the Congress, a new community network of people and institutions from health, conservation, forestry and education fields has been created, and it has really strengthened the task of FTI in disseminating awareness and development of Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy as professional wellbeing practices.

The round tables or “discussion rooms” approached nature-based practices topics, such as sustainable tourism, public health and inclusive public policies. After setting the agenda for a collaborative iberoamerican network, a Memorandum was created to set  the tone for future aims and challenges in these areas.

Shirley Gleeson and Alex Gesse, Forest Therapy Institute executive directors, celebrated the different fields and professional contributions in the Congress, and stressed the importance of partnerships and collaborations across a range of discliplines.  Throughout the Congress, the pandemic reality intersected all  insights and considerations: “In this crisis, no individual expert has the absolute truth: there is one health and one common resilience of all species”.

In relation to various challenges and opportunities, they highlighted “less public spending in the health system, development of economies through more ‘green jobs’, and a growing number of sustainable tourism activities based on biodiversity”, just to name a few.

What ultimately motivated the hundreds of attendees and the Iberoamerican Forest Therapy Institute itself -directed by Claudio Vasquez and Alex Gesse- was to “integrate nature-based practices to health public services, based on models such as the ‘green prescription’” already being used in many countries. Because “beyond health and wellbeing, nature gives meaning to our lives”.

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