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Forests Europe new publication: Human health and sustainable forest management

Forest Europe Publication Advocates for Integrating Health Benefits into SFM. The Forest Europe Expert Group on Human Health and Well-being published a book that summarizes current knowledge on the health benefits of forests and integration of social aspects of forests into sustainable forest management (SFM).

The publication presents evidence on the health benefits of forests, and shares concepts and approaches for utilizing the beneficial effects of forests. It highlights that the capacity of forests to contribute to health and well-being enables the forestry sector to be considered in key national objectives and strategies as well as World Health Organisation (WHO) action plans and the SDGs. ( IISD). The book shares recommendations for integrating human health into sustainable forest management.

The book titled, ‘Human Health and Sustainable Forest Management,’ argues that health and well-being benefits and other social functions of forests, including forest education, recreation and spiritual experience, are an “increasingly important part of the values that people derive from forests.” It highlights the role of forest ecosystem services in creating healthy living environments, from maintaining water quality and soil fertility to helping control erosion, but cautions that there are tradeoffs between maintaining service provision and timber production.

Within this context, the publication argues for forest policies that respond to global challenges, demographic changes and other trends to increase the preparedness of the forest sector to meet the needs of growing urban populations, in line with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the UN Strategic Plan for Forests (UNSPF) 2017-2030 and the EU Forest Strategy.

According to research presented in the book, there is strong evidence that:

  • forests improve mood and attention and can lead to positive changes in cardiovascular risk factors, among many other benefits.

The publication presents five key mechanisms for the health benefits of forests:

  1. reduced exposure to noise and air pollution;
  2. increased physical activity and reduction in obesity rates;
  3. strengthening the immune system through contact with nature;
  4. stress reduction and psychological and
  5. physiological restoration; and better social contacts, including strengthening relationships, developing new relationships and participation and community building.

About: The study “Human Health and Sustainable Forest Management” was prepared by the team of authors led by the FOREST EUROPE Expert Group on Human Health and Well-being established in the framework of the FOREST EUROPE Work Programme 2016-2020.

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