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Forests and Human Health

Task Force Coordinator:

Hannu Raitio, Finland


Tytti Sarjala, Finland

Background and objectives

Environmental change and biodiversity degradation have a big impact on the dispersion of infectious human diseases, but at the same time forest environment can be an enormous asset in improving the health conditions of human communities. To facilitate the on-going debate on the interplay of forests and human health IUFRO has launched a Task Force on Forests and Human Health, ForHealth.

The Task Force has two main objectives:

1) To support the dialogue and information exchange between the various players in this field (scientists from different disciplines, policy-makers, implementing agencies and other stakeholders), especially between forest and health professionals.

2) To enhance the transfer of knowledge on the health benefits and health risks of forests into the practice.

To these aims the Task Force has set up a Task Force Portal where additional information can be found and uploaded.

Priority areas

1) maximizing health benefits of forests

- mental health benefits: stress reduction, therapeutic benefits, psychological rehabilitation
- physical health benefits of forest exercise: access, facilities, support, promotion
- forest derived pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals
- forest food and herbs
- improving living environments: protection from air pollution, wind and noise, microclimate
  improvement, protection of water resources and soil

2) managing health risks connected with forests

- infectious and respiratory diseases: zoonoses and vector-born diseases
- hazards: fires, floods, drought, soil slides, haze, toxic fruits, foliage and fungi, dangerous
  wildlife, fears, accidents, nutrient deficiencies, bush meat

Rationale and terms of reference

Click here to learn more about the rationale of the Task Force and its suggested terms of reference.

Send comments to Hannu Raitio (Task Force Coordinator)