Forest & Nature Therapy walks with Kelly Kiss & Peter Hehl, ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Guides. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) on Salt Spring Island, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island, BC.
ANFT Trail Certification
Forest Therapy, sometimes also known as Forest Bathing (or Shinrin-Yoku) is gaining global recognition as an evidence-based approach to wellness and health. Salish Sea Nature Connections vision is to promote this beautiful practice of reconnecting with oneself and nature. As guides we help people achieve this through offering “invitations” that assist with slowing down, connecting with your senses, noticing your surroundings, and trusting that the benefits that the forest and nature offers, will be taken in.
However, we realize that it is not always possible to have a guide present, and it is for this reason that we like to encourage a "self practice". One way that this can be achieved is through the creation of a "certified trail" that the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) offers through their "Forest Therapy Trail Designation Program."
A Forest Therapy Trail is a path or area where people of a wide range of fitness and accessibility levels can interact with nature, primarily through their senses.
Reasons for Certification
Land Managers and staff who are stewards of natural areas and gardens often embrace, as a part of their mission developing programs that attract people to the land/garden often with the intention of promoting membership and potential for many years of return visits.
The principle aim of ANFT trail certification is to provide visitors an experience that facilitates their falling in love with the land/garden through an intimate and sensory connection, and thus promoting visitors to return to the places they love over and over again.
ANFT seeks to supplement programs that typically emphasize eduation related to conservation, and recreational opportunities of many kinds with the experience of Forest Therapy that is principally about connecting to the land/garden through the senses and the heart.
Posting signs that indicate that a trail has been certified as a Forest Bathing Trail through the ANFT also increases public awareness of the health benefits of being in the forest and gardens.
Possible Locations for Certified Forest Therapy Trails
Accomodation providers with land (spa, wellness retreat centre, B&B, Inn or resort)
Municipal, provincial or national parks
Universities with trails or gardens
Botanical gardens with treed areas
Hospitals and long term care homes with natural areas
ANFT certified trails fall into three categories:
Guided trails where an ANFT trained guide will conduct Forest Therapy walks. Trails in this category are designed to enhance the experience of guided Forest Therapy walks through basic infrastructure and accessibility alterations.
Self-Guided trails where signage allow visitors to replicate the experience of a guided Forest Therapy session without a guide. Such trails are often modified through addition of signage specifically to allow visitors to self-guide themselves.
Hybrid trails where guides and participants are supported by signs and other infrastructure improvements. There are enough signs for people to have a self-guided experience when a guide is not available
Trails considered for certification are based initially on criteria such as accessibility, safety, biodiversity, natural features, and management. A simple question to ask in the beginning of this process “Is this a place where people connect deeply with nature?” If the answer is “Yes”, then this is a good candidate trail.
If you are interested in developing a designated Forest Bathing Trail, we would be interested in meeting and discussing the process of trail certification, and the costs involved. Please feel free to contact us today!
"If you wish to know the divine, feel the wind on your face and the warm sun on your hand." Buddha
What participants Are Saying
"The experience was unbelievably rich and deep. I easily dropped deeply into presence and maintained that state throughout. So life affirming. The guide Kelly was so kind and steady and fully embodied the love and appreciation of nature and our connectedness."
"Find the time! It is worth the investment to understand how you can benefit from listening and smelling the forest!"
"Necessary for love and interconnection with Gaia. Thank you. Was held with great respect. Really glad to be here."
"An exploration and insight into, nature but also of myself. Gratitude." "I think everyone would benefit to experience the calming effect of a therapy forest walk."
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