RESEARCH

Our training is where art meets science

The evidence base supporting Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy has been growing over the past 20 years. To date, the majority of the research has been carried out in Japan and Korea. However, international research is emerging. FTI uses implementation science to implement research into practice. The training is a combination of the latest research on forests and human health, international nature connection practices, science, and ancient wisdom traditions.

To date, there has been an absence of evaluations on the effect of Forest Therapy for specific populations. FTI hopes to rectify this by encouraging and supporting research projects based on the FTI 5x5 Forest Therapy Model in different countries.

General benefits of being in nature

The acknowledgement of the health benefits of spending time in nature is not new. Before the birth of modern medicine, people turned to nature for health and healing, from spending time in natural spas to soothe nerves, to outdoor sanatoriums for tuberculosis. As urbanisation increases and people spend more time indoors, the need for greater contact with nature will increase. With the rise of technostress, FTI hopes people will "swap screen time for greentime".

Contact with nature has many salutary benefits and is a protective factor in preventing mental health difficulties. Nature contact can offer a practical approach for population-based health promotion, disease prevention, treatment and rehabilitation.

Forests are known as restorative environments. They offer opportunities to benefit health through engaging in physical activity, relaxing and socialising in nature. Forest Medicine was coined in Japan; the concept focuses on how the specific forest environment can benefit health by inhaling phytoncides (organic compounds found in trees and plants).

Engaging in Forest Bathing and Forest Therapy can:

  • Improve immune system functioning.
  • Increase relaxation and reduce stress.
  • Restore cognitive fatigue.
  • Improve mood and reduce depression.
  • Enhance vitality and energy levels.
  • Reduce blood pressure.
  • Increase natural killer cells.
  • Decrease rumination and anxiety levels.
  • Aid sleep.
  • Improve cardiovascular health.

Research from Forest Europe “Human Health and Sustainable Forest Management” (2019) highlights the following 5 key mechanisms for the health benefits of forests:

  • Reduced exposure to noise and air pollution.
  • Stress restoration, psychological and physiological restoration.
  • Strengthened immune system through nature contact.
  • Increased physical activity and reduction in obesity rates.
  • Better social contacts.

- Listed research -

The health and wellbeing benefits of trees, woods and forests
O'Brien (2017). Forest Research

Forest design for mental health promotion – Using perceived sensory dimensions to elicit restorative responses
Stigsdotter et al (2016). Landscape and Urban Planning

Green Perspectives for Public Health: A Narrative Review on the Physiological Effects of Experiencing Outdoor Nature
Hales et al (2014). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

"Nature's effect on my mind" – Patients’ qualitative experiences of a forest-based rehabilitation programme
Sonntag-Öström et al (2015). Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

Can rehabilitation in boreal forests help recovery from exhaustion disorder? The randomised clinical trial ForRest
Sonntag-Öström et al (2015). Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research

The influence of urban green environments on stress relief measures: a field experiment
Tyrväinen et al (2014). Journal of Environmental Psychology

Defining nature-based integration – perspectives and practices from the Nordic countries
Gentin et al (2018). Finnish Environment Institute

Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review
Hansen et al (2017). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

Forests, Trees and Human Health and Wellbeing: European Union Cost Action E39 Research
Nilsson et al (2011)

Effects of forest therapy on depressive symptoms among adults: a systematic review
Lee et al (2017). International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health

A systematic review of randomized control trials on curative and health enhancement effects of forest therapy
Kamioka et al (2012). Psychology Research and Behavior Management

Promoting human health through forests: overview and major challenges
Karjalainen et al (2010). Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine

Effects of forest bathing trips on human immune functioning
Li (2010). Environmental Health and Preventive Medicine

Psychological effects of forest environments on healthy adults: Shinrin-yoku as a possible method of stress reduction
Morita et al (2007). Public Health

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