What is IFTDays?
International Forest Therapy Days (IFTDays) is an initiative of “bridge builders”, which aims to connect people with nature for the overall wellbeing of mankind and the natural world. IFTDays brings together practitioners, scientists, and policymakers working in forest therapy and related fields. The aim is to share ideas, experiences, practices, and research, to advance our thinking and to learn from each other. The gathering represents a variety of disciplines from both science and practice.
IFTDays is a movement for sustainable health in which all partners come together to promote change in the way health is experienced in their own cultures. The event is focused on forest therapy for health promotion and disease prevention. The founders believe that by bringing people from different cultural backgrounds, forest biotopes, and ways to connect with nature together, communities’ collective resiliency and hope for the future can be built, supporting the well-being of individuals and fostering a sense of true belonging.
Every year IFTDays organizes a week-long forest immersion event filled with speakers, research presentations, workshops, forest therapy walks, cultural immersions, and many other forest-based activities. The emphasis is on sharing, learning, connecting, and nurturing the community. Details of the events can be found on their website: https://www.foresttherapydays.com/
Where is it Happening in 2020?
Due to the pandemic this year, IFTDays 2020 moves online to keep the momentum going and to keep spreading the message of the importance of forests and our close ties to them. All speakers will be presenting from their respective locations, but some of the workshops of the Workshop Day will be streamed from Finland. This year’s theme is “Rewilding and Reconnecting for Resilience” which applies to nature outside us as well as nature within us. The contributions from this year’s speakers reflect these themes.
IFTDays is not an online webinar, which has grown abundant during the pandemic. Instead, we have focused on providing many possibilities for interaction from our online networking kick-off to small group discussions and engaging workshops where you ask the experts and share your own ideas. IFTDays is all about the people and that’s why our participants are at the center of our online event as well! Thus far, the event receives no outside funding and is therefore run solely on capital generated by the ticket funds.
In addition, a few cities around the world will have smaller gatherings known as Pollinator events. These are mini IFTDays events organized by our IFTDays Ambassadors. At these Pollinator events, people gather to watch the IFTDays broadcast together and participate in a live program organized by the Ambassadors to strengthen global communities of friends of the forest. Details available here: https://www.foresttherapydays.com/iftdays-pollinator-events/
How to be a Part of it
You can follow the online version of IFTDays via Zoom. You can use either your computer or mobile device, on which you have downloaded the free Zoom app before the event. All participants will receive detailed instructions for using Zoom before the event. During the Workshop Day, half of the workshops will be streamed from the forest into a live stream which can easily be followed on any mobile device or on the computer through the link we have sent you.
All tickets include access to the materials as shared by the speakers of the day the ticket is purchased for.
Why is it Especially Relevant for These Times?
Nature´s established health effects are starting to become broadly recognized. Applying the healing effects of nature, specifically those of the forests outside of an unrelated practice, e.g. in primary health care, is only starting. Simultaneously, the Forest Based Health Practices community is growing, and with it, a diversity of approaches, terms, and practices are surfacing. The International Forest Therapy Days aim to raise awareness of Forest Based Health Practices as a growing field and help it forward by building bridges between practice and science.
These are stressful times for forests and for people the world over. There is much healing work to be done, with room for many kinds of thoughtful and sincere measures. Within the small- and large-scale forest therapy traditions, a wealth of wisdom exists. The many forest therapy communities can learn from each other, enriching their individual practices while finding unity in their diversity; there can also be the strength of spirit and purpose and effectiveness in numbers.
Who We Are: Origins and Mission
IFTDays is an inclusive community that advocates for forests and people, and the bond between the two. We are driven by our passion for the planet’s natural world and are committed to healing and restoration. We underline the fulfillment that comes from a life lived in connection with nature. Established in 2018 as a private, not-for-profit initiative, we gather together individuals representing a variety of disciplines from science and practice. We meet in person once a year to share ideas, experiences, practices, and research, to advance our thinking and synergise our efforts. We also meet informally, online and in person, between annual meetings to build and sustain our community and develop our work.
Authors: Katriina Kilpi, Heidi Korhonen, Vitalija Povilaityte-Petri, Ian Banyard, Nitin Das, Sara Malve-Alroth (IFTDays) and Sugir Selliah (Brussels Health Gardens). The authors each work for different organisations but form part of IFTDays or Brussels Health Gardens communities.