21 Mar 2021
International Day of Forests 2021
It’s fair to say that Scotland’s woods and forests have never been so vital as they are now.
They are hugely important in the fight against climate change, for our green recovery, for nature, and for many, have been a life saver throughout the COVID pandemic.
On the day that we are celebrating International Day of Forests 2021, we spoke to Kevin Lafferty, our Health advisor and asked him a few questions about getting active in your local forests or woodlands. He's a firm believer that our greenspace can help with your physical and mental well-being.
Great time to visit your local woods
From local woods for walking the dog or getting some exercise, to majestic mountain viewpoints and some of the world’s most iconic scenery, it’s all out there waiting for you to explore. Woodlands are a pleasure to visit all year round, but spring is my favourite time of the year for woodland walks.
Flowers bloom, bringing bursts of colour, and wildlife reawakens, turning the woodland into a hive of activity. We can enjoy the first signs we are leaving winter behind and getting ready for spring, daffodils are popping up and bird song is filling the air.
What's so great about walking?
Walking is one of the easiest of all exercise activities, with no real requirements for special equipment. It’s great for anyone really and you can take it at your own pace.
Once you hit the forest or your woodland, it’s good to have a plan for your walk – so here are a few pointers. Be sure to pick the right trail for your level of ability. The right clothing and footwear is important as some trails can be wet and muddy underfoot - be sure to pick shoes or boots sturdy and comfortable enough for your walk, and the right clothes to keep you warm and dry, whatever the weather.
Do you tune into nature?
There are loads of things you can do to on your woodland walk, I try to make it fun and enjoyable for all the family. Why not scan the forest floor for seeds and pinecones and see what ones you can identify. Look out for blossoming bluebells and wild garlic, listen for the sweet sound of birdsong. I take a pair of binoculars with me so I can try and spot any birds or nests high up in the trees.
Visit the woods before sunrise to experience the wonder of the dawn chorus. There is nothing better than wandering around the woods in the early hours with the enchanting sound of birdsong in your ears you might even spot a deer, fox or a hare.
Woodlands help slow us down, coming back to a slower pace of life and into rhythm with nature. The natural light influences our circadian rhythms, promoting more restful sleep at night and the exercise will helps us feel more relaxed.
We’ve all endured so much through this pandemic so getting out to your local woodland or greenspace is one of the best tonics you can get – it’s the Natural Health Service.