Meeting the Founder of Narana – Uncle Vincent Ross (May 2021)
It has been a real privilege for INFTA’s President, Susan V. Joachim, to have been welcomed and greeted by Uncle Vincent Ross, a Mutti Mutti elder and the founder of the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. The Institute of Forest Therapy, INFTA’s Accredited Training Provider in Australia and Asia, has recently moved some office space to this cultural centre.
Much like most people on this planet, Uncle Vincent Ross, has been unfortunate to lose his connection to the land, which is the land of his forefathers and the many forefathers before in his younger days. He had, very personally, gone through a lot of personal hardships but, eventually, found his way ‘back home’. Due to his relentless efforts, the Narana Aboriginal Cultural Centre was established in 1998 and developed into a well-recognized place far beyond the borders of Geelong or Victoria.
Narana encourages reconciliation and respect of culture through helping to create positive models for engagement and important dialogue around issues of National Reconciliation, a prevalent issue in Australia. INFTA is proud to support this process and to create respect for the Aboriginal culture and heritage as it was that culture – grown over tens of thousands of years – which lived in harmony with land and nature.
INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guide Training in New South Wales (March 2021)
Another successful training workshop was held at Uniting Venues Elanora, Elanora Heights, New South Wales/Australia, 17-21 March 2021. This five-day intensive workshop marked the start of the six-months training of the next batch of INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guides. INFTA projects a demand of several dozen Forest Therapy Guides over the coming three years in New South Wales alone. This upbeat projection is fueled by the current contract INFTA’s Accredited Training Provider, the Institute of Forest Therapy, had signed with the Royal Botanic Garden and Domain Trust (RBGDT) for providing Forest Therapy services to Public, corporate and educational clients. The RBGDT, established in 1980 by act of the New South Wales Parliament, operates, among others:
- Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
- Australian Botanic Garden – Mount Annan
- Blue Mountains Botanic Garden – Mount Tomah.
Due to sudden weather conditions, the Public Forest Therapy walk which forms the practical highlight as part of the workshop at Uniting Venues Elanora, to be held for the local community at Ku-ring-gai Wildflower Garden, had to be cancelled. While all trainees were keen to go ahead with the Public Forest Therapy walk, safety comes first. Better luck next time!
Cambridge Scholars Publishing has just released a special feature, the “Book in Focus: International Handbook of Forest Therapy” showcasing the international relevance of the topic – and importance of this handbook for researchers, Forest Therapy Guides and stakeholders interested in Forest Therapy as a Public health practice. In this blog, INFTA’s Secretary and Editor-in-Chief of the handbook, Dr. Dieter Kotte, allows a unique glimpse behind the scenes of how this scientific milestone was produced as a collaborative and successful international venture.
More so, the publisher, Cambridge Scholars Publishing in the UK, offers a special promotional rebate of 25% (!) for anyone wishing to order the International Handbook of Forest Therapy. Go for it…. and take the book with you to read at your sit spot in the forest!
Healthy and Connected Community Grant (February 2021)
The City of Greater Geelong has endorsed INFTA and Forest Therapy as a Public Health practice through its 2020-2021 Healthy and Connected Communities Grants Program. INFTA is supported by its Accredited Training Provider, the Institute of Forest Therapy, to offer several Forest Therapy Awareness Workshop at the Geelong and Belmont Libraries as well as a multitude of two-hour Forest Therapy walks at the Geelong Botanic Gardens. All Forest Therapy events are free-of-charge for the community and are conducted to improve the overall community health and wellbeing. Not only will this create more awareness about the many health benefits of Forest Therapy. These events will also strengthen the nature-connectedness within the community and foster preventive health.
- Click here for further information about the FREE Forest Therapy Awareness Workshops.
- Click here for further information about the FREE Forest Therapy Walks.
You can book your Forest Therapy event(s) right away at our special registration page for the event in Geelong.
Forest Therapy featured on Channel 9 (December 2020)
INFTA’s President, Susan V. Joachim, explained the arrival of Forest Therapy at the Royal Botanic Gardens Melbourne to Stephen, the reporter of the Morning Show, Channel 9, a popular TV program in Australia (click on the start button to see the video).
Partnership with the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney (November 2020)
INFTA is pleased to announce that the Royal Botanic Gardens and Domain Trust, New South Wales, has signed an Agreement for the Provision of Services with the Institute of Forest Therapy, INFTA’s Accredited Training Provider in Australia. As part of this agreement, regular Forest Therapy sessions will now be offered at all three locations in and around Australia’s most populated city, Sydney:
- The Blue Mountains Botanic Garden – Mount Tomah
- The Australian Botanic Garden – Mount Annan
- The Royal Botanic Garden Sydney
The first Public Forest Therapy events have resumed at the Blue Mountains Botanic Garden. If interested you can book your Forest Therapy event right here. Forest Therapy sessions at the other two locations will start in early 2021. All three locations, are open to corporate, private and school bookings, too.
If you are interested to become an INFTA-Certified and Accredited Forest Therapy Guide operating at those new locations, please apply here.
Successful INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guide Training (November 2020)
After the harsh lockdown in Greater Melbourne, the first post-COVID-19 Forest Therapy training workshop resumed successfully at Pallotti College, Victoria/Australia. The five-day INFTA Forest Therapy Introduction forms the beginning of the six-months comprehensive, mentored and supervised INFTA-Certified Forest Therapy Guide Training. This time the obligatory guided Public Forest Therapy event was conducted at the outstanding lush gardens of the Gawler Foundation in the scenic Yarra Valley.
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.
Mental Health Australia