Last May, the Forest Foundation supported the Department of Environment and Natural Resources – Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB), Philippine Association of Landscape Architects (PALA) and Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP) to strengthen their knowledge on urban biodiversity by participating in the International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine’s (INFOM) Workshop on Shinrin-yoku.
Shinrin-yoku, or forest-bathing, was developed in Japan in the 1980s as a means to connect with the environment through the five senses. This immersion has been scientifically proven to provide health benefits, such as reduced blood pressure, lowered stress levels, improved cardiovascular and metabolic health, improved concentration and memory, better immune system and improved mental health, among others. Since then, it has been widely practiced in other countries (mostly those with temperate climate), such as New Zealand, United Kingdom and South Korea, to promote not just healing through the environment, but also as a strategy to protect the forests.
The support to the capacity-building initiative serves as the Foundation’s initial step towards the implementation of its Urban Biodiversity, Forests and Health Program. This initiative is also aligned with the Philippine Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan 2015-2028, where urban biodiversity is one of the key result areas. Moving forward, the Foundation and its partners will support the implementation of Shinrin-yoku in various urban parks in the country as a strategy to protect urban forests.