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Could woods and forests help to combat our deteriorating physical and mental health?


Modern, sedentary lifestyles and stressful urban living are leading to high levels of poor health in Europe that medicine alone cannot combat. As a partner in the ‘Forests, trees and human health and well-being’ project, Forest Research explored how natural places and spaces contribute to, and could improve, the health and well-being of people in Europe.

Key achievements

  • Reports: state-of-the-art reports on national research initiatives concerned with forests and health
  • Policy analyses: an analysis of how forestry can contribute to national health policies and priorities within European countries
  • Textbook: publication of a comprehensive European textbook on the role of forests and trees on human health and wellbeing, incorporating the latest results of research and examples of good practice
  • Papers: several pioneering papers in international scientific journals on relations between exposure to natural environment and human health outcomes
  • International cooperation: joint activities and studies with researchers from the United States, Australia and Asia

Our involvement

Representatives from Forest Research sat on the project’s management committee. We also contributed studies and research on how woods and forests are suitable for therapeutic interventions, including rehabilitation and outdoor education.


Funders and partners

Funded by the European Union COST programme (Action E39).

The research involved institutions from 24 countries.


The programme commenced in 2004 and completed in 2008.


Liz O’Brien

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Liz O'Brien

Principal Social Scientist