Forests are a unique place for leisure activities, restoration, recovery from stress and further social and therapeutic interventions. Forests provide an ideal venue for recreation, but also education. Being in nature stimulates emotional wellbeing, responsiveness and empathy of people. Forests are also a source of great eternal inspiration for artists. Rational management of forests, so called Sustainable Forest Management (SFM) will provide such services continuously.
For enhancing the social dimension of SFM in the context of the benefits of forests to human health and well-being, the ministers responsible for forests adopted at the Vienna Ministerial Conference in 2003 the Vienna Resolution 3 “Preserving and Enhancing the Social and Cultural Dimensions of Sustainable Forest Management in Europe.” The signatories to the resolution committed themselves, inter alia, to maintain and further develop both the material (e.g. wood in architecture, medicinal plants) and the non-material (e.g. recreation, well-being, health) social and cultural aspects benefits of sustainable forest management and to encourage the identification, expression and communication of the social and cultural dimensions of sustainable forest management inter alia by including them in education and rural development programmes.
Within the FOREST EUROPE Work Programme, building on former initiatives and ongoing work and experience in countries and organisations, FOREST EUROPE will seek ways to strengthen the social aspect of sustainability with particular emphasis on awareness raising about the benefits of forests on human health, well-being as well as by means of forest related education. To fulfil this aims, FOREST EUROPE is planning to provide two related activities. A review of international research data on social aspects of SFM with special attention to impacts and benefits of forest environment and forest products on human health and well-being, particularly physiological and psychological effects, immune functions, social health and personal development. For promotion of social aspects of SFM in the context of human well-being, a workshop shall be convened to enable sharing of knowledge, experience and best practice examples relating to social aspects of SFM with a special attention to human well-being, health, education and personal development highlighting the health benefits of forests.
The expected results of this activities will potentially increase the awareness of social aspects of SFM in the context of human well-being. The outputs may serve as information tool for decision makers and help forest owners to increase entrepreneurship and provide services leading to green jobs in the forest sector.