1. Analysis of Natural Health Factors Derived from Forest Therapy

Project team:

Dr. Guangyu Wang; Dr. Mei He

Brief project description

The Covid-19 pandemic has led to an escalation of stress related mental health in the global population. Stress is also a leading cause for cardiovascular, metabolic, immunological, oncological and psychiatric disorders (Doimo et al., 2020). Over the last thirty years, emerging evidence from the fields of nature and forest therapy has shown promising results for human health, including cardiovascular, immune, and neuro-endocrine benefits, as well as improvement in mental wellbeing (Payne et al., 2019).  The research suggests that these improvements in physiological and psychological health may be in part due to phytoncides that are inhaled by breathing in the forest air. Autonomic nervous system regulation has also been identified as a potential mechanism for the improvements seen (Payne et al., 2019). More recent studies have shown the nature therapy is as one of key approaches to reduce pressure and stress after this long-term lockdown (Geng et al., 2020, Doimo et al., 2020). However, the measurement for stress recovery and promotion of healthy lifestyles have become crucial for public health (Wen et al., 2020).

In order to quantify the natural elements from forest plants and natural ecosystems and their impact on human health, this proposal plans to carry out qualitative and quantitative research on atmospheric environment matters and elements (Hong et a., 2019a,b,c), such as negative oxygen ion, forest and natural chemicals, temperature, humidity, etc. and landscape elements, such as soundscape, landscape, lightscape and visualscape in forest environment during forest therapy activities, as well as the interaction between those nature and participants.  This is a multidiscipline research project, and we will work closely with Dr. Mei He, Jiangxi Academy of Forestry and Dr. Zhong Xie from National Research Council of Canada, Dr. Hong Xu, BC Cancer Research Centre; Ms. Ronna Schneberger, Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT), and Dr. Wanli Wu, Park Canada Agency. The research will be conducted at Pacific Spirit Regional Park (the first phase), and Banff National Park (the second phase).

In the last three years, my research group has focused on natural ingredients related to human health research, 5 peer-reviewed research papers have been published, ranging from the Impacts of COVID-19 Pandemic on Urban Park Visitation, the Contribution of National Parks to Human Health and Well-being, to the soundscape and human Pleasantness in Urban Forests (Geng et al., 2020, Li et al., 2020, Hong et al., 2019 a.b.c). We have also developed a good partnership with Dr. Qing Li, the Japanese Society of Forest Medicine and the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy in USA. We believe with this funding support; we will be able to conduct systematic research in this regard.


There are three key objectives of the research:

1) Through the platform of UBC Forest Therapy Research, working with experts from all over the world, the project focuses on the theories of health rehabilitation and forest therapy researchers, build a scientific and rational theoretical system and research framework of forest therapy; study the interrelationship with management, forestry, biology, ecology, wildlife protection, forest tourism, psychology, philosophy, traditional culture, rehabilitation medicine and other disciplines; analyze the influencing factors (natural factors and human factors, etc.) of forest therapy, and analysis the key factors of different forest healthy environment.

2) Identify the effects of the atmospheric environment elements (temperature, humidity, negative oxygen ion, plant essence, etc.) and landscape elements (visual landscape, auditory landscape, landscape space, etc.) and interaction with human health individually and collectively.

3)  Establish forest therapy research and training capacity, provide scientific research and training internationally forest therapy researchers and practitioners.


2. The Sustainable Development of Forest Therapy in China

Project team: 

Dr. Guangyu Wang

Jin Wang, visiting scholar, Ph.D. student

This project includes a comprehensive literature review for sustainable development of forest therapy in China. The five principal objectives of this project include:  i) a literature review that forest therapy definition and its development history based on different backgrounds, the current research status of forest therapy, including empirical research and health care effects, the development models of forest therapy, and its management policy, ii) to build a theoretical framework for forest therapy, including medicine, forest, public involvement, public health, and socio-economics, iii) analysis of influencing factors of forest therapy and build models, iv) collect international forest therapy case studies, compare the similarities and differences between the culture, history, and policies of international forest therapy industry, so that China can learn from them, v) to summarize the status of forest therapy in China, recommendations on policy framework, industry management, service design and marketing strategy to achieve sustainable development in forest therapy of China.


3. Assessing the contribution of tangible ecosystem services to local community well-being

Project team: 

Dr. Guangyu Wang

Lin Han, Ph.D. student

This project is about exploring the ecosystem service of forests for the local community in Vancouver. There are three aspects of this research, including: i) forest therapy, ii) water balance, and iii) forest carbon project. The main purpose of our research is to assess the ecosystem services at the community level, including recreation opportunity, aesthetic enjoyment, relaxing environment, fresh air and water. This specific study is to explore the physiological and psychological impacts of forest therapy (bathing) on human health.


4. Forest Therapy and Recreation 

Project team: 

Dr. Guangyu Wang

Qiuning Lyu

This project focuses on different forest therapy activities for local communities. Many activities can be included in the forest therapy, such as outdoor nature education to know forest resources and forest ecosystem, aiming at satisfying the desire for knowledge and improving spiritual and cultural needs. This project is to investigate the impacts of forest therapy activities on participants’ psychological and psychological health.


5. The psychological and physiological effect of Forest Therapy

Project Team:

Dr. Guangyu Wang

Siying Huang, visiting Ph.D. student

This project subjects participated in field experiments with a few different lengths of time (from hours to days). Psychological and physiological responses to the forest environmental stimuli were measured in real settings, fatigue, mental stress, psychological and mental load, blood pressure, and heart rate were used as indices. The results of each indicator were compared by different periods and so as before and after. The objective of this study is to use within-group comparisons to examine the psychological and physiological effects of exposure to real forest environments. To provide scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of forest therapy by investigating its psychological and physiological benefits using biological indicators in outdoor settings, hopefully, to offer activity suggestions for guides and relevant organizations and come up with a scientific guideline for forest therapy field.


6. Restorative effects of Negative Air Ions and Natural Sounds for Firefighter Stress Reduction

Project Team:

Dr. Guangyu Wang

Xin Wang, Ph.D. student

This project explored the potential restorative effects within forest therapy, specifically focusing on two elements: negative air ions and natural sounds. The primary objective is to investigate how these elements can alleviate stress and anxiety among firefighters. This study adopts a quantitative approach to examine the feasibility and effectiveness of indoor forest therapy for this specific population.