To promote the physical and mental health of the nation, and to encourage the public to fully utilize the benefits of the mountains and forests, the Forestry Bureau has been promoting forest therapy in recent years. In 2020, the Taiwan Forest Therapy Society was commissioned to establish the "Forest Therapist Certification Training Platform", which aims to guide the public to experience nature with their five senses through professional coaching and training courses. This will help enhance the effects of forest therapy to achieve physical and mental wellbeing. People who are interested in becoming a forest therapist are welcome to apply for the training program before April 30 and enjoy a 40% discount off the online courses.
The Forestry Bureau pointed out that 60% of the area in Taiwan is covered by forests, and the island's topography is long and narrow with a central rise. These two characteristics make it possible for people to encounter the mountains and forests in only one to two hours by car no matter which city they start out from. Since it's so convenient to visit nature and immerse oneself in an environment with insects and birds chirping among the trees, Taiwan is well equipped with the right conditions for developing forest therapy. To promote the multi-service value of the forest ecosystem, the Forestry Bureau has commissioned the Taiwan Forest Therapy Society to assist in promoting forest therapy services in the National Forest Recreation Areas since 2017.
Forest therapy consists of three elements: people, sites, and activities. When engaging in forest therapy activities, in addition to quality forest sites, the personnel who guide and accompany people into the forest are an essential part of the experience. Only forest therapists with professional knowledge and skills can plan therapy activities that meet the needs and characteristics of participants. Therefore, the goal of promoting the forest therapist certification is not only to ensure the quality of forest therapy activities in Taiwan, but also to help forest therapists become part of a new industry that will connect the needs of national tourism and long-term medical care, and gradually develop into a healthcare industry in the future.
Following globalization and urbanization, the environment is changing rapidly, causing those who are alienated from nature develop various diseases of civilization. In addition to technological advancements, as well as the improvement of medical facilities, public health, and environmental quality, the average life expectancy of people has increased. The proportion of the elderly population is rising rapidly, making the health and welfare of the elderly an urgent social issue. The development of forest therapy is one of the solutions to the diseases of civilization and aging in modern society. A number of scientific experiments and studies show supporting evidence that effective exposure and absorption of phytoncide, negative ions, and oxygen, etc., can provide preventive medical effects, such as relieving anxiety, improving blood cholesterol levels, increasing blood oxygen, lowering blood pressure, raising the parasympathetic system's activity, aiding the autonomic nervous system's balance, and enhancing concentration. Forest therapy has been developed in many countries for many years, especially in Germany and Japan, while it has also been actively promoted in Canada, Korea, and China in recent years.
After studying the training courses related to forest therapy in Taiwan and overseas, the Forestry Bureau has held several meetings with experts and researchers to develop a training program for forest therapist certification that is suitable for Taiwan. The course planning is as follows:
I. Core courses: there are four modules: "Forest Therapy", "Forest Science", "Mental Health and Guidance", and "Physical Health and the Outdoors", totaling 60 hours. The course is made up of 57 hours of online classes and 3 hours of on-site classes.
II. Activity courses: these include "Practical Courses" and "Outdoor Experience Courses", such as plant identification, Nordic walking, basic knowledge of essential oils, and outdoor counseling and guidance. Each course is 3 hours long and at least 5 courses must be taken, totaling 15 hours.
III. Internship course: this will include two "work shadowing" sessions and three "self-organized activity" sessions, for a total of five sessions. The internship course will be conducted by a dedicated instructor who will provide feedback and suggestions on the trainee's performance, including the planning of activities, leading activities, and reporting on implementation results.
After passing all reviews at each level throughout the rigorous process, participants will then be certified as forest therapists. Since forest therapy is an emerging industry, certified forest therapists are still required to participate in further studies and trainings each year and continue their exposure to new research, seminars, or reports related to forest therapy in order to keep up with international standards.
To encourage members of the public to participate in the certification courses, if participants enroll in the online courses offered by the "Forest Therapist Certification Training Platform" before April 30, 2021, they can receive a 40% discount off the price of each course by entering the discount code "TFB6TW". There are only 100 sets of discount codes available, don't miss out on this opportunity! In addition, corporate organizations or government agencies with training needs can submit a proposal to the Taiwan Forest Therapy Society; their proposal plan will be processed after review and approval. For information about forest therapist certification trainings, please visit the Forestry Bureau Forest Therapist Certification Training Platform.