How people perceive the forest

Forests have a positive effect on people’s health and well-being. Research of the relationship between humans and the forest reveals that the experience of being in the forest creates a more permanent reflection in the human mind when a person prepares for a visit of the forest. Not only that they prepare good shoes and raincoat, but that they also prepares mentally for the visit.

This short preparation will add a special dimension to the nature of the forest and prepare the person for a greater experience. The preparation may include the stories they have heard, their childhood memories or previous visits to the forest. All this will help them create a sense of belonging to the world, to the environment, to the forest.

Insight into the relationships that people have with the forest and their more detailed analysis is important for a better understanding of the role of humans and the forest in our world.

What do you feel when you are in the forest?

For many of us, the forest is a pleasant place and gives us a special sense of well-being. The sounds, smells, textures and tastes of the forest are a treat for the senses. They bring feelings of calm, peace and inspiration. With every step we leave behind our busy lives. The body relaxes and the mind clears.

Trees have inspired the human imagination since the dawn of time. Even today, we are amazed at their strength and are grateful for their contribution to sustaining our lives. For centuries, forests have provided more than just timber and firewood. It was shown already in past times when we did not understand that forests also provide the air we breathe and the water we drink. Even then, we felt that even such things as inspiration and human fantasy come from the forest.

Forests provide strength and energy

Today people agree that forest provides multispectral benefit. The forest is a factory for the production of water and oxygen. Many of us go to the forest just to experience again and again such details as the whisper of the breeze through the leaves of the trees. The smell of the tree bark, or the sight of ants marching along the trunks in a perfect straight line is for many of us an important part of life. We subconsciously feel the power and energy that remind us of the charm of nature and how trees embody it.

Knowing this, it should come as no surprise that spending time around and looking at trees is helping our helth, lowers blood pressure, and improves mood. Exercising in the woods or simply sitting and looking at trees also reduces the stress hormones cortisol and adrenaline. All these aspects of the benefits of forests have recently been scientifically proven.

Forests reconnect us with our roots and this increases the effectiveness of our senses. Everything is more intense when we walk along the forest trail in the shade of the trees. The colors are more vivid, the smells stronger, the grass softer, the birdsong more lyrical. Even the apple we brought in our backpack tastes sweeter.

Recent research has also revealed that spending time deep in the woods also significantly reduces anxiety, depression, anger and fatigue.

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Spending time deep in the woods significantly reduces depression, anger and fatigue

A walk in the forest lifts our spirits

This is what our grandmother always told us, and later also our intuition. The Finnish Institute of Natural Resources recommends a minimum exposure to forest of about five hours per month. This time should be spread over several short visits per week. The experience is that even after this short time, people’s mood will improve. Reality is that we spend time in forest, not because grandmothers and scientists recommend us to, but because it makes us feel better.

When we asked an artist if he finds inspiration for his work in trees, he smiled. “Inspiration,” he repeated, “is like meditation. The forest is full of inspiration. A place where you can breathe and relax. Without trees we cannot breathe or relax!”

We are connected to trees by the simple fact that we breathe and we need to breathe in order to live. It is more than a symbiotic relationship. We are networked with trees. If they disappear, so will we. Trees are our inspiration. They allow us a sensory connection with nature. Being in the forest with the trees is an exercise for all the senses.

Trees were here before we humans were. It seems that we walk hand in hand with the trees in time. Today we are busy with work and the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But it is thanks to this that we finally begin to understand how complex and unique this relationship is. Very likely, the trees will be here even in the distant future, when people disappear from this planet.

We can’t live without trees, but they do fine without us

Lucia Gejdosova
Wilderness supporter

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