Creative and Sensory Approaches to Forest Therapy
Presentation and Discussion

Exploring the restorative power of nature: My journey as a guide, researcher and instructor

Mark Ellison, Ed.D
Hiking Research .com

In this session we will explore the concepts of restorative environments, attention restoration, soft fascination, and awe, and how these apply to forest therapy. We will discuss the research that first helped establish the links between nature and human health, and the more recent studies that build on that foundation. I will share about my journey over the last 30 years exploring forests, researching and teaching about the restorative power of nature, and my path to guiding forest therapy walks. Participants in this session will gain a better understanding of the health benefits of spending time in nature; what makes an environment restorative; how to evaluate the restorative aspects of a location; and the different levels of restoration that can be experienced based on the natural qualities of a setting. This is a topic I love. I hope you will join me!

Mark Ellison began exploring southern Appalachian forests as a teenager and became fascinated with the beauty and solitude he found. His doctoral research at NC State focused on the restorative benefits of hiking in wilderness, opening doors for collaboration with researchers and practitioners in the U.S., Japan, Finland, South Korea and other countries to better understand the connections between nature and human health. Mark helped introduce the Japanese practice of shinrin yoku, or forest bathing to the U.S. in 2012, and is a certified forest therapy guide in western North Carolina. He developed and teaches a college course on nature and human health and founded to help others benefit from the restorative power of nature.