Strolling through the forest. In silence, at a leisurely pace, in small, guided groups, contemplating the landscape, enjoying every detail and listening, touching and smelling everything that surrounds you. It is a bath of forest: a peaceful walk through a woodland setting with multiple physiological, psychological and even spiritual benefits. Through this guidance and the calm walking in silence, the person reconnects with nature from a more experiential side. Forest bathing started in Japan, where it has already been incorporated as a therapeutic recommendation into the national health system, but it is practised in many other countries and, also, in the forests of the Catalan Pyrenees. 

The health and wellness benefits are enhanced thanks to forest aerobiology, slow walking, silence, relaxation, conscious breathing, and our reconnection to the natural environment through all our senses”, explain the members of Cooperativa Sèlvans, founded in 2019 in the context of the NGO Sèlvans, which works for forest conservation and preservation. The cooperative offers tools and activities for bringing people close to nature and its Therapeutic Forest network. Sèlvans has created its own forest bath methodology and has established an agreement with forest owners to allocate a portion of the Bath’s cost to forest conservation.

The role of the guide

At Sèlvens, they highlight the figure of the guide as a mediator to help us reconnect with nature and awaken senses numbed by our current way of life. “The man-nature link is so broken that we need a mediator who works like a key to get back into our home, understanding nature as home”, they assert. Thus, nature is the true therapist but the role of the guide is fundamental because society no longer knows how to approach it, how to access this ‘medicine’.

Expert and professionalised guidance helps, facilitates and accompanies people to promote their relationship, connection and bond to nature. The guide’s main tool are “invitations”: specific interactions with the natural environment aimed at promoting wellbeing through sensory immersion: hearing, sight, touch, taste, smell, corporal perception...”, explain the members of Rural Salut, where besides running a house of rural tourism, they organise healthy recreational activities which combine emotion, exercises and fun, such as the forest baths. In the walks they propose, the walkers perform different relaxation and breathing exercises designed to help them spend time in nature in a simple and, at the same time, therapeutic and healthy way; to enjoy and thus obtain all the benefits which the relationship with the ecosystem is capable of giving: “We have an intense and very healthy experience in the hands of Ester, a nurse and expert Forest Bath guide, who helps us interrelate with the natural environment through a specific methodology”, they add.


Selvans - Requesens

The forest network

What should the forest be like? Do all forests present the same characteristics? For Aromes al Bosc (“aromas in the forest”), a project which proposes gastronomic and sensory experiences in nature, the presence of mature trees and a complete multi-age structure is a very important factor in the choice of a forest: the more mature they are, the more essential oils they emit and, thus, the more beneficial they are when we breathe them in. Also, they take into account species variety, undergrowth and the accessibility of the space, ideally flat and lightly trafficked, to facilitate participants’ arrival and walking. Aromas al Bosc organises forest baths but, also, other wilderness connection experiences: “The fundamental pillar of everything born within this space is to experience the singularities of the year’s seasons through contact with nature, the tastes of edible plants and our guidance”, they explain. 

Sèlvans, meanwhile, organises the forest baths in the Sèlvans Therapeutic Forest Network, and the Catalan Pyrenees are home to four itineraries: Pla de la Barraca, Ripolles; Requesens, Alt Empordà; Salvador Grau, La Garrotxa; and Les Olletes, La Garrotxa.

Another company working in the territory is Oci Pirineus, which proposes an itinerary for benefiting from the therapeutic properties of the forest of Gerdar, one of the most well-preserved fir-tree environments in Europe, quite the paradise. On the trip, participants are invited to tune back into one of our most forgotten senses: smell and, thereby, discover the forest’s perfumes and aromas. “We also discuss the medicinal and magical uses of incense, a forgotten tool which hides many secrets”, the company adds. 

Useful links:


Aromes al Bosc

Oci Pirineus 

Rural Salut

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