I wanted to share my perspective, as a physician, on the conservation efforts like the protests at Fairy Creek watershed.
Society is amidst a mental health crisis that is worse since the pandemic. The medical system is struggling to manage the burden. Some effective resources available are green spaces and forests.
Our connection with nature and forests is quantifiable. Forest bathing lowers our cortisol levels, inflammation markers, and phytonicides released boost immune function. I can not prescribe you a pill with equivalent effects. Shinrin-Yoku (forest bathing) is effective for mental health and stress-related chronic diseases. Research is ongoing to confirm the effects. But you do not need research to confirm this – I am sure that you notice the difference in how you feel when you are driving through a wooded area or hike in the forest (the feeling translates to physiological changes that improve health).
B. C. Parks Foundation’s Forest bathing campaign to support health care workers, is increasing awareness for this invaluable therapy. I regularly prescribe forest bathing to my patients with remarkable results.
I was acutely reminded of this impact, after development started in my neighborhood. Only a narrow area of green space was preserved around the pathway – this has significantly impacted the feel of the neighborhood and removed a significant portion of the forest canopy of the pathway. It impacts my experience daily – the loss of a forest bath.
I realize balancing development, forestry and protection are challenging. I am adding my plea to authorities to prioritize now, to find alternatives to support all parties, not at the expense of what is not replaceable and not dispensable.
There is no room for complacency, apologies or fixing it later.
Protecting our urban green spaces and forests are not negotiable, it is critical.
Dr. Annelaine Grobler,