Forests and Human Health July-1-2009

Coordinator’s Word

Last year saw a lot of activity by the ForHealth Task Force. We promoted Forests and Human Health -theme in several international events; e.g. the information event "Forests - promoting or harming human health?" at the European Forest Week in Rome in October 2008 gathered a nice audience of forestry professionals and decision makers.

In Finland, several public health and forestry institutions together with private enterprises have started discussions to establish a National Forum on Forests and Human Health. At least Japan and Korea have already set up similar forums, and we see this as a useful model for strengthening the co-operation of different sectors in other countries as well. At the Finnish Forest Research Institute, a research programme on Welfare effects of forests has started. In addition, two large research projects studying compounds from trees and wood for their functional and biomedical activity, especially for their health promoting properties, have been launched. For example, antioxidative properties of fungal compounds will be studied in age-related macular degeneration model with RPE-cells.

Recently, at the International Conference on Health and Recreation in Forest and Landscape, at WSL (Birmensdorf, Switzerland) in April 2009, the first steps were taken to draft guidelines for Health Impact Assessment of forest-related projects and policies (F-HIA). We hope to get Your cooperation in this process.

ForHealth is actively preparing its future actions. In September 2009, a conference on Ecology and Forests for Public Health will take place in Norway. In October, ForHealth with two other IUFRO task forces will arrange a side event "Forests, human health and well-being: findings of IUFRO's recent science initiatives" at the World Forestry Congress in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

The steering group meeting in Morocco, in April, 2008.

Preparations for the IUFRO World Congress 2010 are also going on. ForHealth will organise there two sessions, one concentrating on the health benefits of forests and the other one on infectious diseases related to forests. We invite all interested organisations and individuals to contribute to these events.


Professor Hannu Raitio,
Director General of Metla

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