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Forest therapy

Forest therapy is an element of climatotherapy, which can be used systematically for preventive, therapeutic as well as rehabilitative issues. There are a lot of studies published worldwide which describe the health promotion effects of the forest therapy on body and mind.

Forest therapy or shinrin-yoku has a long tradition in Japan and South Korea. During the stay in the forest all senses of everybody will be addressed:

  • The eyes will receive different lighting conditions, especially crepuscular light
  • The sense of smell will get new impressions like wood or earth
  • New or unusual sounds will be recognised, e. g. bird songs, rustling of leaves or purling of a steam
  • Tactile sensor of hands or feet will notice new materials (leaves, barks, roots)
  • The sense of taste will be addressed by tasting berries

Forest therapy is health promoting

Depending on the type of the forest (deciduous, mixed or coniferous forest), the forest will establish its own specific climate. Therefore, forest climate shows specifically health promoting effects:

  • High air quality and reduction of air pollutants
  • High air humidity
  • Low air temperature
  • Specific lightning conditions
  • Aesthethics of wood

Hence forest therapy can be used for primary and secondary prevention in an optimal way.
To meet the above mentioned requirements, only some types of forests should be used as not each of them shows relaxational effects (e. g. dark forest).

What does a therapy forest (healing forest) mean?

A therapy forest should pass a list of criteria in order to be used successfully for prevention, therapy and rehabilitation. In 2013 our team developed a check list of different health promoting criteria for the therapy forests. The German state Mecklenburg-Vorpommern has already implemented this checklist of criteria in its six pilot cities and the first German Healing forest has been opened in Heringsdorf at Usedom in September 2017.

Development and evaluation of forest therapy and healing forests

We support with our expertice the development as well as the evaluation of effects of forest therapy national as well as internationally.

  • Expert advice for planning and developing of forest therapy for preventive, therapeutical or rehabilitative issues
    E.g. see our expert advice for the implenetation of a forest therapy in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern (only in German).
  • Assessment of different levels of therapy forest (3 level) based on the checklist of criteria on therapy forests (Schuh & Immich 2013)
  • Evaluation of forest therapy effects (scientific advice, planning and evaluation of studies)
  • Seminars and lectures for Forest therapy as a preventive stress-management program.

Contact

For further information please contact

Gisela Immich, M.Sc.
phone: 0049 89 2180 78213
email: gisela.immich@lmu.de

Prof. Dr. Dr. Angela Schuh
email: angela.schuh@med.lmu.de

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