IUFRO has established the Task Force Forests for People, with the goal to develop a profound basis of scientific knowledge on forest management, planning and administration, to disseminate research findings and to identify future research needs. The Task Force deals with four main themes: Culture and Education, Livelihoods, Urban and Rural Landscapes, Health, Recreation and Tourism.
Contributing to 75,000 jobs in Sweden
In developed countries, the functions of forests have changed over time. There, several social services are recognized increasingly as the major benefits from forests such as their contribution to health, well-being and quality of life of their citizens. In addition to these societal benefits Swedish researchers documented a significant economic impact. In total the annual expenditures on outdoor recreation amount to about 10 billion Euros, contributing to some 75,000 jobs in Sweden alone.
Visits to forests reduce the blood pressure
These figures are a significant argument for other countries and forest administration to evaluate and market their efforts in this field. On the other hand, the Swedish research community may benefit from new findings in the field of health and well-being by Japanese and Finnish researchers. Measurements show that even short visits (15-20 minutes) to urban forests reduce the blood pressure and heart rate. Further research will help to substantiate the evidence of long-term health benefits also addressed to the risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer and psychological disorders.
The 2nd Forests for People conference in Michigan
Crucial for the international exchange are regular cross-divisional and interdisciplinary conferences. We hope to see again significant contributions from Sweden at the 2nd Forests for People conference: A Growing Interdisciplinary Task, May 19-23, 2013, Traverse City, Michigan, USA.
Text and photo: Ulrike Pröbstl, Professor, Coordinator of IUFRO Task Force Forests for People, BOKU, Austria