Forests contribute to the health agenda by providing natural restorative spaces. Studies from many countries, including Australia, Japan, and Sweden have highlighted the contributions of trees, woodlands and green spaces to people’s overall health and well-being. These studies also show that benefits are not confined to those of us who are active in nature. We can also gain simply by looking, even by just looking out the window.
Because the link between walking outdoors and wellbeing is so important, Coillte is delighted to have been able to join forces with Mental Health Ireland to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in the beautiful surrounds of our forests and forest parks all over Ireland.
We have collaborated on a number of projects including the Green Ribbon campaign, our Solstice Wellbeing Day in June and other private and public Coillte events.
Woodlands For Health is an innovative programme developed by Coillte with the support of Mental Health Ireland, in partnership with the HSE/Wicklow Mental Health Services and Wicklow Mental Health Association.
The programme was adapted based on Branching Out which was successfully applied by the Forestry Commission in Scotland.
It is designed to enhance the quality of life for adults with enduring mental health difficulties in the Wicklow area by engaging them in activities in a woodland environment.
The first programme commenced in October 2012 and is on-going. The project has been positively evaluated by the HSE and University College Dublin. One beneficial outcome has been the formation and development of Well-A-Head, a peer led social club based in Wicklow, which was formed in early 2014. Members now meet twice a week for a range of outdoor social activities which include walking, running and rowing among others.
Coillte Forest Park in Avondale, Rathdrum, County Wicklow hosted the Mental Health Ireland, 5,000 Steps To Well-Being event in October 2016. Almost 100 people turned out on a beautiful sunny afternoon to support the event which was part of World Mental Health Week.
Jane Harrison, Wicklow Rose of Tralee was the ambassador for the event. Guides included Shirley Gleeson an Eco - Nature and Forest Therapist, Declan Little from Woodlands of Ireland and Nollaig Cruise from Get Ireland Walking.
The theme for the afternoon was the “Five Ways to Wellbeing” – Connect, Be Active, Take Notice, Keep Learning and Give. There are simple ways to enhance everyday life, feel good and function better.
We run three high potential businesses, Forestry, Land Solutions and Medite Smartply, which delivered earnings (EBITDA) of €89.6 million in 2015.