Embracing Forest Therapy as a New Approach to Ecology, Livelihoods and Production

Yen-Shau Lin
Published: 19 July 2023
Last edited: 19 July 2023
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Summary

The Fuxing Nanhe Leisure Agricultural Area (Miaoli County, Taiwan) is well-known for its historical trails, leisure farms, and unique guesthouses. In 2011, the Miaoli County Lohas Tongxiao Leisure Agriculture Development Association was formed to promote slow travel itineraries through food and farming education and experiential activities. In recent years, the industry has faced the challenge of economic stagnation. Since 2019, there has been collaboration among the industry, government, academia, and research institutions to document the cultural, historical, landscape, and ecological aspects of ancient trails in the area. In 2022, to further advance these efforts, community development centered around forest therapy and relevant community-based activities. Its goal is to foster sustainable local livelihoods where nature and the Fuhe community coexist and thrive together.

Classifications

Region
East Asia
Scale of implementation
Local
Ecosystem
Agro-ecosystem
Agroforestry
Theme
Biodiversity mainstreaming
Culture
Ecosystem services
Health and human wellbeing
Local actors
One Health
Species management
Tourism
Species Conservation and One Health Interventions
Species Status Assessment
Species Monitoring and Research
Species Intensive Management (in situ or ex situ)
Species Conservation Planning
Risk communication, community engagement and behaviour change
One Health coordination mechanism
One Health
Biodiversity-health nexus
Challenges
Lack of alternative income opportunities
Changes in socio-cultural context
Sustainable development goals
SDG 3 – Good health and well-being
SDG 8 – Decent work and economic growth
SDG 15 – Life on land
SDG 17 – Partnerships for the goals
Aichi targets
Target 1: Awareness of biodiversity increased
Target 2: Biodiversity values integrated
Target 7: Sustainable agriculture, aquaculture and forestry
Target 14: Ecosystem services
Target 19: Sharing information and knowledge

Location

Tongxiao Township, Miaoli County, Taiwan

Impacts

The Miaoli County Lohas Tongxiao Leisure Agriculture Development Association has been documenting the cultural, historical, landscape, and ecological resources of the surrounding trails since 2019. They have conducted surveys on nearly 150 butterfly species, 18 endemic bird species, and over 300 wild plant species. They have also planned the creation of butterfly habitats by establishing nectar sources and host plants. Through regular ecological surveys, they have engaged over 20 ecological survey volunteers, 18 community tour guides, and 5 certified forest therapy instructors. Starting from 2022, they have adopted forest therapy as a strategy to upgrade the community industry. Collaborating with travel agencies, they have launched “Forest Therapy” itineraries, organized a total of 24 events within a year and guided over 400 people to experience forest healing journeys. This has led to over 30% economic growth in the local industry and has also promoted conservation awareness among local residents, reducing conventional farming practices. The association aims to develop a “Satoyama Lohas village,” promote self-healing and provide high-quality forest therapy services, while practicing a holistic lifestyle that integrates ecology, livelihoods and production.

Contributed by

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Li-Chuan Weng Forestry and Nature Conservation Agency