Forest bathing, anyone?

Published February 10, 2021, 11:14 AM

by Ellson Quismorio

The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) is pushing for a new kind of therapy in the country called “forest bathing,” which is a Japanese innovation.


“I firmly believe that forest bathing can also be a hit in the Philippines as long as we protect and conserve our forests especially our protected areas and our wetlands,” DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said in a statement Tuesday, Feb. 9.

The DENR announced that it has entered into a partnership with the private sector for the creation of more green spaces in urban areas via the “Urban Forest Bathing Project,” which is part of BMB’s Urban Biodiversity Program.

“The Urban Forest Bathing Project not only will help the environment, as more trees and land spaces will be used for this if deemed successful; it will also help the people nourish their mental and emotional well-being,” Cimatu said, adding that it’s “a win-win for both the environment and the people.”

Forest bathing is based on a Japanese concept called shinrin-yoku, with shinrin meaning “forest,” and yoku meaning “bathing.” Developed in Japan during the 1980s, forest bathing means taking in the forest atmosphere during a leisurely walk.

The environment chief added that he looks forward to the BMB’s promotion of forest bathing in urban areas as health is increasingly becoming a priority for people living in cities.

The project, which is covered by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), will be undertaken in collaboration with the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation (PTFCF), the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects (PALA), and the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP).

Under the MOU, the BMB shall lead the implementation of the project with concerned DENR regional and field offices and local government units (LGU), issue policy recommendations and guidelines on its establishment, and assist in the formulation of the detailed Site Development Plan of each area identified for urban forest bathing.

It shall also monitor and evaluate periodically the progress of the implementation of urban forest bathing.

The PTFCF shall conduct scientific and technical research to generate knowledge on urban biodiversity conservation and support to urban forest bathing and the formulation of policy guidelines for the establishment of urban forest bathing. It shall collaborate with BMB for the preparation and implementation of the project.