Anti-viral properties of essential oils and phytoncides (June 2020)
The latest research from INFTA’s Advisory Board Member, Prof. Dr. David Wang, and colleagues from the National Chung Hsing University in collaboration with Bio-Jourdeness International Groups Co. Ltd. and the Agricultural Biotechnology Research Center, Academia Sinica, in Taiwan identified very interesting and promising anti-viral properties of specific phytoncides in essential oils. The researchers found that the active compounds in geranium and lemon essential oils are able to downregulate Angiotensin-Converting Enzyme 2 (ACE2), a SARS-CoV-2 spike receptor-binding protein, in epithelial cells. As you are aware, SARS-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for the current COVID-19 epidemic.
While this does not mean that inhaling geranium of lemon oil will work as a vaccine against any COVID-19 infection, the important finding demonstrates the immense biochemical potential inherent in natural substances. The findings suggest that selected phytoncides and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) may, indeed, contribute to strengthening the human immune system in ways previously not thought possible. No doubt, key findings like that should translate into further research into the medical properties of Forest Therapy. INFTA congratulates David and his team to this innovative breakthrough in biochemistry/biophysiology!
The healing benefits of Forest Therapy (June 2020)
A recent article in the Australian Sydney Morning Herald described and endorsed the effects of Forest Therapy as an effective preventive Public health practice. Quoted next to the internationally revered British actress, Dame Judy Dench, INFTA’s President, Susan V. Joachim, stresses that when “immersing yourself or being showered in nature you consciously choose to slow down and soak it all in. Noticing the sounds, smells, sights, textures and even the taste of the air allows you to slow down, relax and re-energise”. This was underscored, once again, by several dozen participants who took part in the Public guided Forest Therapy walk offered by INFTA in collaboration with its accredited training provider, In My Nature, at the Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden in Sydney.
Forest Therapy and Coronavirus Pandemic (March 2020)
INFTA has received a lot of inquiries if and to which degree Forest Therapy as a preventive Public health practice may be able to assist in combating the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. INFTA wishes to underline that Forest Therapy exposes participants to inhaling a very diverse range of phytoncides when walking under the canopy of trees. These phytoncides bolster the human immune system. However, while some phytoncides have anti-viral properties (see, for example, Astani & Schnitzler 2014 and Pertino et al 2018), there is no known phytoncide, terpene or volatile organic compound (VOC) that destroys directly the new SARS-CoV (Coronavirus). SARS-CoV causes the medical condition referred to by the WHO as COVID-19.
However, INFTA recommends to walk in nature and in forests regularly and to participate in Forest Therapy events to strenghten your immune system, physical and mental well-being. INFTA wishes everyone affected by COVID-19 a speedy and full recovery.
Nature Stewards in Victoria (February 2020)
INFTA supports the local initiative by Outdoors Victoria to foster nature-connectedness among adults. Nature Stewards is a 10-week adult environmental program that will introduce participants to their local and wider Victorian ecosystems and natural places. The curriculum is broad, covering topics such as: rocks and soils; fungi, plants, and animals; climate change, seasons and fire; ways to care for country and manage private property; being a citizen scientist, conservation volunteer, advocate for nature, or nature guide; and how and where participants can get outdoors and volunteer in their area. The program includes approximately 46 hours basic training across 10 class sessions and four field sessions. Programs run across Victoria, with days, dates, and times dependent on the host organisations. More information and how to apply can be found here: A training program for Victorians to become nature-connected.
Devastating Bush Fires in Australia (January 2020)
INFTA regrets the massive loss of life, environment and habitat caused by the raging bush fires in Australia. From an international perspective and being concerned about Public health and the lifestyle of people, INFTA urges governments and responsible stakeholders to pay attention to the immense value of our environment, in particular the health benefits natural forests provide. Losing millions of hectares of forests and bush in Australia coupled with the tragic loss of life of people, wildlife and fauna is a human and environmental catastrophe. It should remind us to have better preventive measures and policies in place. We – the people and communities – have to take immediate action to prevent such avoidable environmental destruction from happening again. As much as we need the forests for our very own health and well-being, the forests need us – now!
INFTA Advisory Board (December 2019)
In 2019 INFTA was privileged to expand its Advisory Board yet again. At the end of this year, the Advisory Board comprises ten members. Our esteemed Advisory Board members come from Australia (4), Germany (2), New Zealand (1), the USA (1) and Taiwan (1). Their expertise ranges from Forest Medicine to Cancer Research, from Public Health to Qigong and from Counselling to Environmental Politics. Five of INFTA’s Advisory Board members contributed to the International Handbook of Forest Therapy which has been released officially on 1 December 2019.
INFTA 2019 Graduation Ceremony (November 2019)
Samantha Dunn, former State Member of Parliament in Victoria and a Member of INFTA’s Advisory Board was the Guest of Honour at the 2019 Graduation Ceremony of INFTA-Certified and Accredited Forest Therapy Guides. The Graduation Ceremony was held during yet another successfully completed INFTA Forest Therapy Introduction at Pallotti College, located in the scenic Yarra Valley outside Melbourne.
Forest Therapy featured on House of Wellness TV (November 2019)
INFTA’s President, Susan V. Joachim, explained the main benefits of Forest Therapy to Vanessa Toholka, the reporter of the House of Wellness, a popular TV program in Australia (click on the start button to see the video).
International Handbook of Forest Therapy (December 2019)
The IHFT is the collaborative work of some 50 authors, edited by Dr. Dieter Kotte (editor-in-chief; Secretary and International Strategic Advisor, INFTA), Prof. Dr. Qing Li (co-editor; Nippon Medical School, Japan), Prof. Dr. Won Sop Shin (co-editor; Chungbuk University, Republic of Korea) and Prof. Dr. Andreas Michalsen (co-editor; Chair of Clinical Integrative Medicine, Charité-University Medical School, Germany).
The International Handbook of Forest Therapy is available as hardcover and digital copy through all common sales channels.
Forest therapy has many public health benefits (August 2019)
The Victorian Landcare Magazine published an interesting article about the health benefits of Forest Therapy. It illustrates how Forest Therapy can readily be employed in many communities in regional Victoria. This way Forest Therapy can also contribute to the growth in health tourism and regional development thereby strengthening environmental protection and nature-connectedness.
Professional Collaboration with the Australian Counselling Association (June 2019)
INFTA has registered with the Australian Counselling Association (ACA) getting its Forest Therapy training courses recognized and accredited. As a counsellor, registered with the ACA, you can now apply for 10 credit points for your required Ongoing Professional Development (OPD) when registering with any of INFTA’s training courses – in Australia or abroad. With this, INFTA has become the only international organisation in the area of Forest Therapy which has been accredited by ACA and the community of professional counsellors.
As an ACA-registered counsellor, you can click right here to register for the next Forest Therapy courses and secure your OPD points:
Masterplan to implement Forest Therapy at Heilongjiang Province (May 2019)
Welcomed warmly by the International Director of the Northeast Forestry University at Harbin/China, Prof. Dr. Hongzhi Sun, INFTA’s Secretary and International Strategic Advisor discussed possibilities of future cooperation. Heilongjiang province comprises large forested areas not yet used for Public health, wellness or health tourism. Following intense negotiations with his Chinese counterparts, Dr. Kotte proposed a masterplan to train INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guides and research personnel forming the backbone of the new health industry. INFTA is involved in assisting the Chinese Society of Forestry in its endeavours to implement Forest Therapy following international training and research standards. Training of the selected staff of Northeast Forestry University is scheduled to take place at INFTA’s international training facilities in Australia and Germany.
INFTA’s Secretary as Visiting Professor in China (May 2019)
INFTA’s Secretary and International Strategic Advisor, Dr. Dieter Kotte, came as Visiting Professor to the College of Economics and Management at Northeast Forestry University at Harbin/China. He was welcomed by Prof. Dr. Jinbao Su (Chair of Tourism Management). INFTA’s Secretary gave several important lectures on Forest Therapy and the relevance for the Chinese economy in the next decade (for the English translation, please see here).
INFOM International Symposium and Workshop (May 2019)
INFTA’s President, Susan V. Joachim, and INFTA’s Secretary took part in the INFOM International Symposium and Workshop 2019 in Japan. The situation with regards to research in Forest Medicine conducted in Japan, presented by Professor Qing Li (who is a Member of INFTA’s Advisory Board), suggests that much more funding is required to confirm the initial findings, largely established on insufficient sample sizes. The symposium clearly demonstrated that it is imperative for other countries to replicate and extend research in the area of Forest Therapy and Forest Medicine.
Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed with Swiss Task Force (April 2019)
INFTA is proud to announce the comprehensive MoU signed with the Swiss Task Force to foster research, policy development and Public awareness in the area of Forest Therapy. This collaboration forms part of the innovative Swiss-based project “Our forests for our health” (Unsere Wälder für die Gesundheit). The aim of the project is to develop an evidence-based and verifiable multi-professional concept fostering the introduction and implementation of Forest Therapy in Switzerland. The Swiss Task Force is spearheaded by medical professionals (Cardiodyn) as well as forestry and Public health experts (Pan Bern AG). A first nation-wide round table to design and operationalize the best way forward will take place in September 2019. INFTA will provide the required international input.
Forest Therapy at the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne (from March 2019 onwards)
A string of events has been organized jointly with the Royal Botanic Gardens in Melbourne. If interested and if you wish to experience a guided Forest Therapy walk, please book here one of the following two-hour Forest Therapy walks conducted by INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guides and supervised by the INFTA-Accredited Training Provider In My Nature.
Successful INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guide Training (March 2019)
Another successful international training workshop was conducted 6-10 March at Pallotti College, Victoria/Australia. The five-day INFTA Forest Therapy Introduction which forms the beginning of the six-months comprehensive, mentored and supervised INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guide Training was joined by an international and diverse group of participants originating from Singapore, Australia and Colombia.
Mental Health Australia