Forest Therapy: Forestal health services, a new aim of Montagne Fiorentine

Forest Therapy: Forestal health services, a new aim of Montagne Fiorentine

Montagne Fiorentine Model Forest Association together with Castagno d’Andrea Visitors Center of the Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona e Campigna National Park (in Tuscay, Italy) organize, for the next 18 October, a day of direct experience and an in-depth meeting on the preventive and therapeutic functions of the Forests in the splendid context of the beech woods of Mount Falterona. The event is called "Meditation and health in Forest" and aims to be the first step towards a more structured project.

According to doctors and scientist, the health services offered by forests through their attendance have been widely validated, both psychologically and physiologically. Beneficial effects were observe on states of anxiety, stress and depression, and on the strength of the immune system, after only 20 minutes of immersion in the forest. Two hours leave a lasting impression of up to a week, and with two days in the forest the immune system maintains beneficial effects for up to a month. It has recently been hypothesized that the volatile compounds emitted by the vegetation of the Mediterranean scrub have contributed to limiting the spread of Covid-19 in Southern Italy.

The day’s program includes a morning dedicate to the multisensory experience in the forest, with "forest approach practices" proposed by expert psychologists Sara Nardini and Marta Regina. Conscious walking, breathing exercises, rooting and meditation with the tree, identification with nature together with Qi Gong exercises, will allow to live with intensity the experience of "FORESTAL THERAPY", which is part of the national project of the Italian Alpine Club (CAI). The group will be accompanied by CAI and GAE guides, and by Francesco Meneguzzo, national technical representative of the CAI project.

In the afternoon an in-depth meeting will be held at the Park Visitor Centre. After the institutional greetings and an introduction about forest ecosystem and biodiversity, Stefano Berti, President of Montagne Fiorentine Model Forest, will talk about the environmental and forest qualities of the Florentine area and how the practice of Forest Therapy is functional to the safeguard of Forests and to the valorisation of the related ecosystem services, also from a tourist and economic point of view. Following Fabio Firenzuoli, director of CERFIT, Center for Research and Innovation in Phytotherapy and Integrated Medicine, reference structure for phytotherapy in the Tuscany Region, University Hospital of Careggi, co-author of a recent and fundamental scientific article on the subject, will talk about the benefits for health resulting from exposure to volatile organic compounds found in forests.

Francesco Meneguzzo, CNR researcher and national technical referent of the CAI Central Scientific Committee, will present the results of his research carried out in various forests throughout Italy, offering advice on places, seasons, times of attendance and methods, aimed at optimising the benefits of natural Aromatherapy in the forest. Carlo Visca, Environmental Hiking Guide, will talk about the role of GAE guides in promoting and encouraging the use of forests for slow and conscious tourism. The meeting will be closed by Sara Nardini, Psychotherapist, expert in meditation and aromatherapy, and Marta Regina, Psychologist, Mindfulness Association UK, who, after having conducted the morning experience, they will talk about fundamental themes to correctly practice the Forest Therapy experience. Doctor Nardini will talk about the practices necessary to conduct a conscious immersion in the forest, while Doctor Regina will introduce us to the best exercises to practice in the forest to calm anxiety. The journalist Alessandro Visca, head of the magazine "Medico e Paziente" media partner of the meeting, will moderate the meeting.

The whole day will have the support of: Foreste Casentinesi, Monte Falterona e Campigna National Park, Union of Municipalities of Valdarno and Valdisieve, Municipality of San Godenzo, National Research Council Institute for Bioeconomy (CNR IBE), Italian Alpine Club (CAI), Regional Reference Center in Phytotherapy (CERFIT), Andrea del Castagno Association, and also Tuscany Region and  Mediterranean Model Forest Network Secretariat (MMFN).