Woodland - Spring 2019 - 12

©ISTOCK.COM/ROMOLOTAVANI

Seedlings
Continued

THE DOCTOR PRESCRIBING A WALK IN THE WOODS
BY JUSTIN HIGGINBOTTOM

VP_ART/SHUTTERSTOCK.COM

REPRINTED WITH PERMISSION FROM OZY.COM

Dr. Qing Li spent a formative week camping
with friends in 1988. They went to the
Yakushima forest in southern Japan, which
brought him back to the poplar forests and
apricot trees of the village in China where he
was born. He remembered playing hide-andseek with friends and being among animals. It
was so far removed from his life as a student
in Tokyo.
The trip left him invigorated but curious. He
actually felt healthier. But where did this feeling
come from? He was convinced that nature had
something to do with it. It seemed like common
sense, but there was little scientific backing.
"Some people study forests. Some people study
medicine," says Qing. He decided to study both.
Qing, 56, a professor at Nippon Medical
School in Tokyo, is often referred to by
academics, news media and fans as the
foremost expert on shinrin-yoku, or "forest
bathing." The idea is that simply being around
nature has measurable health benefits. While
the principles can sound somewhat New Agey,
that's where Qing comes in, giving a scientific
argument for a walk in the woods. With Qing's
supportive research providing the impetus, there
are now 62 designated forest bathing spots in
Japan - many within dense cities - used by up
to 5 million people a year. And his ideas have
spread around the world.
Shinrin-yoku didn't begin with Qing. In 1982
the Japanese government started a program

12 WOODLAND * Spring 2019

to promote health and conservation by getting
citizens back to nature. The Akasawa forest was
the first area chosen for the experiment. As a
scientist, Qing later got on board with this public
plan and returned to Yakushima - where he had
his first revelation - in 1990 with a preliminary
research group to study how nature affects
people. In 2004, he helped form the Forest
Therapy Study Group to collect evidence. And
since then he's obtained a mountain's worth.
According to Qing's research, only two
hours of being within nature can lead to a
host of benefits like reducing blood pressure,
lowering blood sugar levels, improving memory
and boosting the immune system. Average
sleep increased 15 percent, white blood cells
responsible for fighting cancer shot up and
the stress hormone cortisol dropped. All that's
not from heavy exercise or diet - just walking
aimlessly and slowly (without a phone in your
hand) under a fragrant canopy. Next up for Qing:
research into the practice's impact on cancer.
Make no mistake, you don't have to leave
the city for this. In fact, with some planning
- as Japan has done - urban spaces can
include suitable parks and forest bathing
paths. Every Monday, Qing takes his students
for a walk in Tokyo's parks. His suggestion
for urban planning is simple: "Plant trees as
much as possible." According to The Nature of
Americans report by conservation firm DJ Case
& Associates, 70 percent of those in the U.S.


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Woodland - Spring 2019

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Woodland - Spring 2019

Overstory
Forest Interactions Seedlings
Forests and Families
Brittany Vanderwall: Saying Yes to Opportunity
‘chipping In’ to Reduce Wildfire Risk in California
Strength in Numbers: Tree Farmers and Advocacy Leaders Rally to Recover Post-Disaster
Tools and Resources
Growing Forest Conservation, Together: The 2019 National Leadership Conference
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Intro
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover1
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover2
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 3
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Overstory
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 5
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Forest Interactions Seedlings
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 7
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 8
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 9
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 10
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 11
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 12
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 13
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 14
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Forests and Families
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 16
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 17
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Brittany Vanderwall: Saying Yes to Opportunity
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 19
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 20
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 21
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 22
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 23
Woodland - Spring 2019 - ‘chipping In’ to Reduce Wildfire Risk in California
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 25
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 26
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 27
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 28
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 29
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Strength in Numbers: Tree Farmers and Advocacy Leaders Rally to Recover Post-Disaster
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 31
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 32
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 33
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 34
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 35
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Tools and Resources
Woodland - Spring 2019 - 37
Woodland - Spring 2019 - Growing Forest Conservation, Together: The 2019 National Leadership Conference
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover3
Woodland - Spring 2019 - cover4
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