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Forestry England know a little something about the benefits of being outdoors in nature. They have cared for of the nation’s forests for over 100 years and regularly conduct research into the physical, mental and social benefits of spending time outdoors.

Enough from us, let’s pass it over to Ellen Devine, Forestry England Wellbeing Project Manager, to tell us how stepping out into a forest can help you this year.

About Forestry England

For over a century, Forestry England has grown, shaped and cared for more than 1500 of our nation’s forests. 

We look after more land and trees than any other organisation in England and play a vital role in shaping landscapes for people, wildlife and timber.

My role involves promoting the many wellbeing benefits of forests and facilitating ways for everyone to connect with trees and forests.

Forestry England Wellbeing Project Manager, Ellen Devine

“The trees won’t judge you, they will simply stand alongside you and help you process whatever life is currently throwing at you.”

The Forests have the Answer

However you’re feeling, the forest can have the answer. When you’re feeling low in energy, the dynamic environment of the forest can provide a pick-me up and ample opportunities to get a buzz of adrenaline as you walk, run, cycle or even swing through the trees at Go Ape!

If I’m feeling stressed or anxious, the sensory experience of the forest helps to soothe my senses and calm me down. And I’m not alone in that experience! Studies show that people relax best while seeing greens and blues. There can be great comfort in visiting a forest; you can go there and know that the trees won’t judge you, they will simply stand alongside you and help you process whatever life is currently throwing at you.

 

key findings from recent Forestry England Research

A recent report published by Forest Research in December 2021 found that visits to the UK’s woodlands boosts mental health and is estimated to save £185 million in treatment costs annually.

This report builds on previous research which shows that visiting forest environments can help lower blood pressure and pulse rate, reduce cortisol levels and suppress sympathetic nervous activity.

Find out more in the wellbeing hub on the Forestry England website.

Person crossing a treetop crossing at Go Ape.

The Importance of access to nature and forests

Being able to regularly visit forests and spend time in nature is an essential part of my daily life. I need to be able to breathe in fresh air and absorb the fascinating patterns of colour and sound created by nature.

If I can’t get to a forest or woodland, I enjoy finding nature in unexpected places like the cracks between pavement slabs. And wherever you are, you can always look up – what are the clouds doing? Are there birds in the sky? Can you find a tree to stand under and take a few moments to look up and see what you can find in its canopy?

Including the forests into your everyday life

There are so many ways to add some outdoor adventure into your life. I really enjoy trail running in the forests and recently took part in Forestry England’s Forest Runner 10km event at Mallard’s Pike in the Forest of Dean. I absolutely loved it!

The sky was bright blue, the air was crisp (it was only just above freezing), the morning sun was streaming through the tall trunks of the trees and everyone, all the runners and spectators, were smiling! There’s something magical about running in the forest. My feet get carried along and I forget about everything and enjoy the freedom of running through the trees. It’s my escape.

How will you add a forest adventure to your life?

Ellen Divine trail running

Go Ape and the Forest

Trying out a Go Ape course is on my list of things to do in 2022! I love Wyre Forest and it would be amazing to experience it from the canopy, rather than the walking and running trails, for a change!

There’s always new ways to enjoy the forest and Go Ape is certainly a great challenge. I think I’ll bring along a few friends and make a day of it – maybe with a nice coffee in the café afterwards!  

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