Nature and Forest Therapy Guides

Certified Forest Therapy Trails

Certified Forest Therapy Trails increase awareness and promote the practice of Forest Therapy. They offer land managers a new ways to reach out to potential visitors and to support quality experiences of those who come to enjoy their land. We  have approximately 20 certified trails around the globe.

This program is currently on hold, as we find ways to improve the program and to better support trail consultants and land managers. Please check back in a few months for updates.

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

  • Guided Trails: These are designed to support Forest Therapy Guides and those who they are guiding so they can have an optimal experience.
  • Self-Guided Trails: These trails use signs and other cues to allow visitors to replicate the experience of a guided Forest Therapy session without a guide.
  • Hybrid Trails: 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.
The Process of Trail Designation

If you think your trail is a good candidate, first complete the Trail Certification Application form. Once we receive your form, we will connect you with an ANFT Trail Consultant who will assist you with the certification process. Consultants are ANFT-Certified Forest Therapy Guides who have additional training in trail assessment and certification. Your consultant will answer any questions you have and walk you through the initial application process.

Phase 1

The focus of this phase is on assessing the trail, offering recommendations for trail modifications, and matching Forest Therapy invitations to specific places along the trail. The consultant and you (or your land manager) will walk the trail together and complete a trail assessment. The consultant will likely recommend improvements to the trail to support forest therapy experiences. There will be photos and videos made to help communicate specific opportunities and issues.

Phase 2
After ANFT reviews and approves the documents from Phase 1, land managers will be responsible for making improvements noted in the Phase 1 assessment.

Phase 3
The ANFT Trail Consultant will returning to the site and together with you or your land manager will update the assessment and document site improvements. When this is complete and documents are submitted to ANFT, the land manager will receive official Certified Forest Therapy Trail status. The new ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Trail will be added to the ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Trail map on the ANFT website.

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.

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