The concept of Forest Bathing, also known as Forest Therapy, is gaining global recognition as an evidence-based approach to wellness and health. Forest Bathing sessions consist of gentle walks in which a guide uses a range of techniques aimed primarily at slowing people down from what has become a “normal” frenetic pace, and calling attention to sensory experiences of the forest and its environment. Trail certification provides a new method for engaging diverse community members, public health providers and patients, national and international tourists, and a wide array of partners in the development and implementation of Certified Forest Therapy Trail systems. Health care organizations, employee wellness programs, municipalities and park systems, public and private forest land managers, universities, organizations that promote healthy living, and many more, are potential partners for developing Forest Therapy programs and trails. Maintaining signage promoting designated Forest Therapy Trails increases public awareness of the health benefits of being in forests. An official ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Trail sign will likely pique the curiosity of visitors and propel them to seek more information about Forest Therapy and associated events and programming.
What is a Forest Therapy Trail
A Forest Therapy Trail is a path or green space where people along a broad spectrum of fitness levels can interact with nature and forests, primarily through their senses. Forest Therapy Trails do not always conform to typical ideas of what constitutes a trail. Some Forest Therapy Trails may be found in more traditional settings, like arboreta and botanical gardens, while other places might include spas, nature-adventure parks, hospital gardens, farms, urban parks, retreat centers, universities, public or private forestlands, conservancies and other unique settings. ANFT considers trails for certification based initially on criteria such as accessibility, safety, biodiversity, natural features, and management. We also consider how infrastructure and signage can promote both guided and self-guided Forest Therapy experiences on the trail. We strive to affirm the beauty and dignity of all ecosystems, and so, ask yourself, "Is this a place where people connect deeply with nature?" If the answer is yes, then this space is probably a good Forest Therapy Trail candidate.
ANFT certified trails fall into three categories
Certified Trail Consultants are ANFT-trained and certified guides who have completed an additional training to equip them to consult with land use managers, assess trails, and recommend trail certification to ANFT. Search the directory below to locate a trail certification consultant in your area.