The psychological and physical impacts of spending time in forests: a case study of two forests in Ireland.

  • Yuuki Iwata UCD Forestry, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4.
  • Áine Ní Dhubháin UCD Forestry, School of Agriculture and Food Science, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4.
  • Craig H. Bullock UCD School of Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4.
Keywords: Health benefits of forests, mood tests, forest therapy, species composition of forests, longer-term physical and psychological health impacts.

Abstract

The overall aim of this study was to investigate the psychological and physical health/wellbeing effects of spending time in forests, and the role that the species composition of the forests plays in these effects. The effects were assessed by a simple questionnaire survey to 179 visitors to two adjacent forests; a conifer plantation forest and a broadleaf plantation forest. The immediate psychological effects from spending time in forests were also assessed by a mood test, and the longer-term psychological and physical health impacts of forest use were explored by comparing the results of the survey of forest visitors with that of a national survey. The results indicated that the main psychological well-being benefits experienced by forest users were “mental relaxation” and “enjoyment and fun”. Significant improvements in mood immediately after a walk in the forest were exhibited by the respondents, but the species composition of the forests was not shown to influence the improvements. It was also revealed that forest visitors engaged in greater levels of physical activity than the general population, but there was no correlation found between forest users’ physical activity level and frequency of forest use. It was recommended that further research should aim to make use of large-scale surveys of a random sample of the population including visitors and non-visitors to forests.
Published
2016-11-01
How to Cite
Iwata, Y., Ní Dhubháin, Áine, & Bullock, C. H. (2016). The psychological and physical impacts of spending time in forests: a case study of two forests in Ireland. Irish Forestry. Retrieved from https://journal.societyofirishforesters.ie/index.php/forestry/article/view/10851
Section
Articles

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