At the beginning of September, an important Forest Therapy session took place in the Misurina woods within the research campaign conducted by CAI and CNR through the Institute of BioEconomy (Cnr-Ibe ).
The project, which has been underway for a few years on a national scale, has two purposes:
- Collect, through immersion in the forest, physiological data of the participants in the sessions.
- Qualifying areas of particular woodland-naturalistic value (in this case Misurina) as "Official Forest Therapy Stations".
The ultimate goal sees the presentation of the results achieved at the Higher Institute of Health to make Forestry Therapy in Italy prescribable by the National Health System in the short future.
But what does "Forest Therapy" really mean and what benefits does it bring? Let's find out now!
Man and Forest - an ancestral combination
Human beings have lived for thousands of years in nature, evolving in balance with it. In the last two centuries, following forced urbanization, this millennial bond has been interrupted, leading to conditions of stress and significant imbalances in our body.
Forest Therapy therefore means a deep immersion in nature implemented through an experiential methodology that stimulates the conscious attention of the mind, of the 5 senses and of bodily sensations in relation to the natural context of the forest. The guided practice includes observing the details of a forest, its light, its colours, listening to the sounds, breathing its perfumes, establishing contact with the plants and the earth.
The benefits of Forest Therapy
Immersion in forest environments has been shown to produce direct benefits on human health. These benefits mainly concern the psychological sphere (mental processes, stress, anxiety and emotions), cognitive processes and social life (skills, behavior, lifestyle). From a physiological point of view, significant effects emerged with regard to the improvement of cardiovascular functions and haemodynamic, metabolic, immune, inflammatory, oxidant indices.
Based on these studies, CAI and CNR (National Research Council) have activated a research-campaign identifying in Italy, between the Alps and the Apennines, the sites where to create "Forest Therapy" Stations involving more than 1. 000 volunteers.
One of these days took place in Misurina on 5 September 2022 in which 22 participants followed the process of an experimental session with monitoring of the physiological parameters (HRV-saturation) before and after the dive.
Misurina - Birth of a Forest Therapy Station
We are in Cadore where the CAI section of Auronzo, in collaboration with the CAI section of Domegge, has identified Misurina as the site to propose for the local Therapeutic Forest Station.
Misurina, Pearl of the Dolomites, is a suggestive lake at the foot of the Three Peaks and home to the only center for the treatment and rehabilitation of asthma-bronchial diseases in Italy (Istituto Pio XII) . What better place to imagine a therapeutic station in the woods.
This is how in the summer of 2022, Dr. Giovanni Margheritini - Vice-President of the CAI Scientific Committee - immerses himself in the forests around Misurina and begins to monitor the environment according to a series of parameters.
The so-called "Campagna-Mesura" begins: a measurement of the concentration of volatile compounds present in the survey area - among them B-VOC (organic compounds emanating from plants, e.g. terpenes) and A-VOC (volatile anthropogenic compounds, e.g. benzene).
The elements for qualification were the following:
- July 2022 - visit for environmental overview and collection of data on emissions using a photoionizer;
- August 2022 - collection of further data on emissions and definition of the Forest Therapy route;
- 05 September 2022 - experimental session with collection of physiological and environmental data.
Municipality: Auronzo di Cadore (BL)
Manager: Chiara Bonel - Founder of Bonel Misurina
Accompanying persons: Flora Fedon and Luisella Deppi - Section CAI Domegge di Cadore
Therapist: Dr. Pasquale Costigliola - Psychologist and Psychotherapist
Departure: Misurina c/o Chalet Alpenrose
TF route: in the direction of Rifugio Col De Varda, the route winds along the path called second tour of the lake - which can be traveled by people with normal mobility without any difficulty.
Biological effects: the site is particularly suitable for the incidence of β-pinene with antininflammatory, antioxidant, antidepressant and antiproliferative effects.
Misurina is mainly characterized by the presence of conifers, in particular larch, silver fir and stone pine - a forest composition particularly suitable for:
- the prevalence of coniferous trees which guarantee a good mix of BVOC;
- the tree distribution that guarantees open and bright forest structures;
- the low impact of pollen and allergens.
The physiological results on the volunteers will only be seen following the analyzes by the researchers. Meanwhile, the developments on the national project can be viewed in volume 2 "FOREST THERAPY" which can be downloaded free of charge by clicking this link.
In the short future there is the certainty that Misurina will become a qualified resort for Forest Therapy in Italy. and we can't wait to know its evolution!