Building Positive Relationships: Parks, Government, Healthcare
Presentation and Discussion

Selvans: Protecting Old Growth Forests

Silvia Gili i Olmeda
Sèlvans Training

Sèlvans works hard to safeguard the most valuable forests, the most mature ones, which contain ancient trees and retain a more complete natural structure. Our aim is to form a wide network of high conservation value forests, with some sectors assigned to free natural dynamics and others subjected to minimal intervention so as to contribute to the conservation of biodiversity. Within this basic framework, there is a subset of therapeutic forests: a woodland infrastructure to help us reconnect with nature that complements urban green zones and creates a remarkably high-quality range of health and wellbeing services throughout the region. The creation of the network of therapeutic forests and the corresponding Sèlvans quality standard is based on 6 principles: the peace and quiet of the landscape and the naturalness of the forest, a specialized guidance to facilitate the group’s immersion and connection with this environment, stewardship agreements with the forest land owners, a minimal infrastructure that blends in with the surroundings, a synergy with local stakeholders, and a link to a medical research programme.

Silvia is a biologist specialized in nature conservation. Among other learnings, she has a master’s degree in naturopathy and alternative medicine, and in dieting and nutrition. She has also coursed a postgraduate degree about the significance and spiritual values of nature, and courses on herbal medicine, scientific aromatherapy, mindfulness, coaching, and guidance and interpretation of natural heritage.

Silvia has actively collaborated with Sèlvans since 2014 in the conception and development of the guide training program. She has been the coordinator of the three editions of the university extension course to become a specialized Sèlvans forest bathing guide (autumn/winter 2017, autumn/winter 2018, spring 2019), in collaboration with the Foundation of the University of Girona (Catalonia, Spain). Besides teaching in the course, she also supervises all the post-course practicums which lead interested participants to become an accredited guide and steward of one of the therapeutical forests forming the Sèlvans pilot network deployed in Catalonia. As a preliminary applied study also arising from a personal interest, Silvia has been researching the effects and potential benefits of forest bathing on a young boy with autism, with very interesting and promising results.