Forest Bathing International Magazine, Issue 1 - Page 14

The time of the forest has come

This is a time that was desperately needed. The world's forests are disappearing.

In Finland for example, forests have traditionally played a central role in the lives of its people. Being the dominant type of habitat, forests are our most beloved and most used outdoor recreation environment. From early on, Finns become familiar with their nearby forests. Kindergartens incorporate forest visits into their daily activities. Schools use forests close to them as “classrooms”, and high school students practice orienteering (a forest sport that is popular in the Nordic countries).

On the other hand, due to the reliance on forests as our green gold, we have lost most

of our old forests in Finland. They have been turned into production forests that are now increasingly being threatened by intensive logging to turn our forests into biofuel.

Our metsäsuhde—forest relationship—is

also threatened.

In countries where the innate connection to forests has been lost due to rapid urbanization, more manufactured measures

to get people into the forests are needed. For example, South Korea has managed to drastically increase their forest cover and establish a “forest based welfare policy”, which incorporates activities in the forest for all age groups for their health and quality of life.

Forest Therapy has the potential of raising awareness on crucial topics such as diminishing forest cover, access to forests, pressure of usage by tourism, and forests that have reduced resiliency due to loss of biodiversity and sickness. Though much of

the world is not yet ready to embrace nature connectedness as a moral value, many recognize that a human can no longer be seen as the center of the universe and the ruler of other beings. The role of forest therapy, and specifically the guide, is potentially crucial in furthering this paradigm shift. Forest Therapy has the potential to make a significant impact, but needs to grow exponentially first.

This is where IFTDays comes in. IFTDays is driven by our (mine and Heidi´s) worry for

the world. We’re inspired by the love of forests that many of us carry within, regardless of our backgrounds or origins. Forest therapy might take on a different shape in different parts of the world due to the diversity of the ways in which we relate to the forest, but there is strength in variety.

While IFTDays is open to a broad range of activities, the importance of nature connection remains fundamental. Ultimately, we advocate for approaches that aim at reinforcing that connection for quality of life for the entire planet.

IFTDays / International Forest Therapy Days –

Born from a Metsäsuhde by Katriina Kilpi