Author Topic: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show  (Read 519 times)

alan de enfield

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The custodians of Englandís forests have launched a drive to encourage more people to make regular visits to woodland to improve mental wellbeing.
They claim that research shows that two or three short jaunts to woods and forests dramatically improve mental as well as physical health.
Forestry England, a division of the Forestry Commission, says more than half of the population of England lives within six miles of one of its sites and claims almost everyone would benefit from spending more time among trees.
It is keen to dispel the notion that woodlands are dark, scary places by making more of its sites easily accessible, and is organising events working with vulnerable people or those who feel cut off from the natural environment, to draw more visitors in.



https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/may/13/woodland-walks-good-for-mind-and-body-studies-show

barewirewalker

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #1 on: 09:14:55, 13/05/19 »
more than half of the population of England lives within six miles of one of its sites and claims almost everyone would benefit from spending more time among trees.
What about the other half  8) . How much further than 6miles are they away from woodland. This topic could be seen a part of a succession of topics, where experts in physical and mental health have come up with cure and preventative remedies connected with getting out in the countryside.

Here I posted a link to to a film made in 1987. Marion Shoard in her commentary points out the many woodlands we do not have access to. If we walkers took a more analytic view of our pastime, we might immediately spot the corollary to this, waterside.

What are the significant calming effects of access to stream, river banks and lake sides. Exercise to get to these restorative locations needs good quality ways. Not convenient car parks with slots for credit/debit cards and a few yards for an obese family to stumble for their fix of nature.

P.S.
I was going to post a topic, A Requiem to Ash Trees, my last walk day before yesterday, I was struck by so many skeletal forms in our landscape, how fast is this spreading across our countryside. They are Ash trees struggling to put out leaves, are their sap bearing cells so clogged with fungus that there is not enough sap to put up enough leaves to keep them alive for next year.

Whose to blame for this; was it landowners buying tree stock on the cheap so they could have loose cash left over from grants intended to conserve our countryside?
« Last Edit: 09:27:17, 13/05/19 by barewirewalker »
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ninthace

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #2 on: 09:19:54, 13/05/19 »

It is keen to dispel the notion that woodlands are dark, scary places
Tell that to Little Red Riding Hood!
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alan de enfield

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #3 on: 10:35:57, 13/05/19 »
If we walkers took a more analytic view of our pastime, we might immediately spot the corollary to this, waterside.

What are the significant calming effects of access to stream, river banks and lake sides. Exercise to get to these restorative locations needs good quality ways. Not convenient car parks with slots for credit/debit cards and a few yards for an obese family to stumble for their fix of nature.




The Canal & River Trust (British Waterways as was) are singing from the same hymn sheet and have re-launced themselves as a 'wellness destination', going the whole hog and producing new "strategic directions" and even a new logo.




gunwharfman

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #4 on: 14:48:54, 13/05/19 »
Is this a corporate message to improve their image in the eyes of the public or their investors?

In the centre of a wood that I run around most days, a young man lives in a small tent and has done so for months! I saw him yesterday. The local farmer also knows of him and told me that he's 'very well educated and comes from an aspiring middle class family background' (his words) but to date no one has bothered him.

A daily walk or run is good for me personally, I've never suffered from anxiety, depression, psychosis etc, but after many years of working with people with mental health problems, I think the benifits of a walk in the woods is easy to over state. Go to a wood, sit by a river, climb a hill, lounge around a park and your life will improve, if thats the message I'm not convinced.

rambling oldie

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #5 on: 16:25:06, 13/05/19 »
and let's not forget there's also The Woodland Trust who specialise in making woodlands accessible.  Near where I live in Hampshire there's Home Farm Wood, an entirely new wood, where the Trust are running walks and tours. At the other end of the timescale there's Binswood which is described as one of the few remaining examples of a typical medieval wood with clearings from varied grazing.  All very much a "free to roam" situation.

barewirewalker

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #6 on: 16:47:37, 13/05/19 »
Is this a corporate message to improve their image in the eyes of the public or their investors?

 if thats the message I'm not convinced.
Quite possibly that is the motivation behind, it but why knock it. As walkers we base our leisure on access to the countryside, any pro publicity is good, it builds the case for the social benefits of the access network, even more so now as leisure budgets have been cut. The access network is a wealth creating asset. It does this by both active and passive earning, I attended a LAF meeting over 5 years ago, where a senior area health official was preaching from this hymn sheet.

All argument needs dialogue, empty sound bites soon fall short of being convincing, but facts and examples build a case. Coming from a farming background I listen too often to false examples and reasons, why visitors the countryside should have their access limited. These days I go to a lot of funerals, a lot of the country folk I grew up with are being planted back in the ground. They were true farmers, today the control of the countryside is slipping fast back into the hands of the landowner, with land values well over £10,000 per acre.

Yet there are figures to prove that one mile of right of way can put £100,000's of income into the rural economy per year, without it going through the hand of the land owner, then there is the hidden passive earnings. Such as the above.

Do we know how to interpret the specific ingredients of these assets? Without being able to talk about them and flesh out the bones of the generalities, who will listen.

Looking at the efforts of the Woodland Trust as in RO's post, I am tempted to compare it to farm walks, which get a lot of laudable press. A landowner, Woolley by name and native of Devon, I believe, president of the CLA prior to Harry Cotterell, (auther of current CLA access policy, called 'Common Sense') got a lot of praise for making walks on his acres.

It is worth noting that none of these schemes link into the access network proper. Nor did the CLA's document cover anything closely resembling the above sentiments.
« Last Edit: 16:53:35, 13/05/19 by barewirewalker »
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GinAndPlatonic

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #7 on: 16:57:05, 13/05/19 »
I enjoy forests in moderation. If walking for too long in woods, especially conifer woods then I start to crave sunlight and open fields. Natural deciduous woods are much better thiugh, as they let in much more sunlight and feel natural, but I would really rather be walking up high in the hills or in open landscapes.It is open land that raises my spirits.
I am glad that many conifer forests are being thinned out or felled completely in many areas. I have walked through a few dense conifer forests and found they lower my mood....just the opposite to what I normally get out of my walks...just too dark for me.


Mel

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #8 on: 19:13:03, 13/05/19 »
Deciduous woodland for me.  Dappled sunshine through the canopy - magical. 


I was always led to believe that conifer plantations are nothing but a "crop", grown for eventual felling and I find them a bit eerie. 


Recently a woman was attacked in a (very popular) woodland nearish me, which is a bit disconcerting and has made me hesitant about walking urban fringe "wild places"  :(
 
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Bigfoot_Mike

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #9 on: 20:11:17, 13/05/19 »
Not all coniferous forest is a monoculture plantation planted for timber. I agree the plantations are dark, uninviting places devoid of wildlife. However, there is some ancient coniferous woodland left that is not filled with Norway spruce.

Owen

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #10 on: 20:14:50, 13/05/19 »
Deciduous woodland for me.  Dappled sunshine through the canopy - magical. 


I was always led to believe that conifer plantations are nothing but a "crop", grown for eventual felling and I find them a bit eerie. 



I always thought the same about our woodlands until I walked down the Rapa valley in Sweden's Sarek national park. The forest in this valley has never been "managed" the difference between that and our plantations was chalk and cheese. The diversity of trees, bushes, plants and fungi was truly staggering. It really was one of the best walks of my life.   




Recently a woman was attacked in a (very popular) woodland nearish me, which is a bit disconcerting and has made me hesitant about walking urban fringe "wild places"  :(



That is very worrying and upsetting but not really the woodlands fault, it can't help how people choose to abuse it.

Mel

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #11 on: 20:28:46, 13/05/19 »
I agree.  I wasn't saying it's the woodland's fault but it might be something for the promoters of woodland walking to take into consideration  :)



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Dovegirl

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #12 on: 21:35:35, 13/05/19 »
I'm not very keen on walking in coniferous woodland as I find it a bit forbidding.  But I like short walks in deciduous woods, especially when the woodland spring flowers are out.  I love the wooded dales of the Peak District and the enchanting ghyll woodlands of the High Weald.  But it's usually in open landscapes that I get more of the feeling of freedom and well-being that for me is such an important aspect of walking.

I wasn't saying it's the woodland's fault but it might be something for the promoters of woodland walking to take into consideration
Yes, feeling uneasy walking in woodland isn't very conducive to a sense of well-being.  I think there's little risk in woods right out in the countryside but occasionally I've felt a bit uneasy when walking in such woodlands and have been glad to get out into the open.


BuzyG

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #13 on: 22:24:22, 13/05/19 »
Much prefer open moorland and crags to dark,  damp,  foreboding forests.

Good luck with your latest sales pitch forestry folk.  I guess they have realsed, people have more money to spend on leisure activities that logs these days.  If so then expect the workman like layout of forestry commission plantations to gradually become more open and inviting over the coming decades.

Enough said from me on that subject?
« Last Edit: 22:39:34, 13/05/19 by BuzyG »

barewirewalker

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Re: Woodland walks good for mind and body, studies show
« Reply #14 on: 10:07:42, 14/05/19 »
Much prefer open moorland and crags to dark,  damp,  foreboding forests.
If your walking is mostly in open moorland the most usual woodland will be the unnatural coniferous woodland, as planted by the Forestry  Commission, yet there are truly magical places, such as the lesser trod ravines of the Berwyns, where it is possible to find the stunted Chestnut and Rowan, with Sessile Oak fashioned by prevailing winds. Here the more open canopy will give a fully clothed ground.

Hopefully the woodland trust will influence policy away from this heavily subsidized form of tree production bought on by wartime policies and much loved by landowners for their generation windfalls of cash from marginal land.

I recall trespassing across a spit of private land trapped between two areas of Open Access, a figure was approaching be he farmer or fellow walker, I know not because he passed indifferently by 200yds away. I realised as I entered the area he had come from, why I had been surprised. I was walking in Savannah, such a rare ecology in this country but one that would be worth paying subsidies to encourage. Sheep were grazing peacefully shaded by dwarf Scot's Pines, yet the lush grass was bountiful.

Sadly this rare habitat ended all too quickly, I did a weaving course to the maximize my time in there, I suppose this experience was one of my transitions from destination walker to a quality way walker. Woodland now is a feature I try to plan into a route, but the experience can be built on by the terrain you exit or enter by, does the network allow for the best experience or is it only governed by land management.

A destination walker will measure their prowess how many times they climb a hill, now my knowledge of a hill is how many vistas I know of it, to find a place, where you can see the top of a hill through the canopy of a tree you are standing by might be as rewarding an experience as standing on it's summit.


The countryside is a place to be visited by a growing population, there is a need in us, is this genetically linked to our psyches? Resurfaces during the times of stress so that the environment we all came from has a healing process. In my case the youthful need for exercise has been replaced by emotional fulfillment, experience has added more thoughtfulness.
BWW
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