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A forest heals both body and mind

Posted April. 15, 2014 00:10,   


“My mother who had been in depression after suffering a cerebral infarction was healed in forests. Nature brought her back to normal life.”

This is an excerpt of the writing of Cho Byeong-wook, 43, who won the top award over 113 competitors in the contest that selects the best writing on personal healing experiences in forests. Other winners include Hwang Gye-sook, 52, who was healed both physically and mentally in the rural area after having surgery for breast cancer, Yoo Byeong-nam, 56, who saw his child recover from an atopic disease and childhood depression in the forests, and Ms. Lee, 47, who overcame her depression and social phobia, which she suffered as a result of a marriage fraud. Forests are the competent doctor who cures people’s diseases.

○ A forest is a general hospital without a scalpel

“A forest is a general hospital, given by nature without doctors, scalpels, and medicine.”

Shin Won-seop, the head of the Korea Forest Service, often said this when he was a professor at the forest healing department at Chungbuk National University. He tested a forest-healing program to the offenders and victims of school violence and reaped tangible results.

Twenty eight police officers from the Korea Coast Guard were stretching following the instruction of the forest healing trainer in the Saneum Recreation Forest in Yangpyeong, Gyeonggi Province, at 10 a.m. on March 27. They suffered insomnia, nightmare, and depression in the aftermath of North Korea’s bombing of the Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 and the crackdown on Chinese illegal fishing boats. They participated in the “healing program,” a program arranged by the Korea Coast Guard and the Korea Forest Service. A police officer said, “After participating in psychological and meditational treatment in the forest, I felt comfortable for three days.”

○ A forest turns from recreational to healing purposes.

Now, forests have become a place where people heal their body and mind. This is the result of the efforts made by a slew of experts in forestry, medicine, psychology, and education including the National Forest Service. As the Park Geun-hye administration stresses the importance of the welfare of forestry, many attempts are being made.

The National Forest Service plans to increase the beneficiaries of forest healing services to one million by 2017. For this, it plans to clarify the definition of forest healing, increase the space for healing, standardize the healing program, foster experts, increase R&D efforts, and streamline related laws and regulations. It also designated Chungbuk National University, Dongyang University, and Chonnam National University in addition to four universities (Catholic University of Korea, Hallym Polytechnic University, Kwangju Health College, and Suncheon National University). The organizations produced 38 forest healing trainers in September last year, and plan to produce as many as 500 trainers by 2017. They will provide quality forest healing services to the people in the forests of healing, natural recreational forests, forest parks, and forest roads. Yim Sang-seop, the head of the Forest Healing Department at the National Forest Service, said, “Forest healing trainers will provide services that contribute to the people’s health and help create a happy green welfare country.”