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Research article2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Forests for Health Promotion: Future Developments of Salutogenic Properties in Managed Boreal Forests

Stoltz, Jonathan; Burgas, Daniel; Potterf, Maria; Duflot, Remi; Eyvindson, Kyle; Probst, Birgit M.; Torano-Caicoya, Astor; Monkkonen, Mikko; Gyllin, Mats; Grahn, Patrik; Snall, Tord


Visits to forests can improve human health and well-being through various mechanisms. They can support the immune system, promote physical activity, and restore stress and attention fatigue. Questions remain about how perceived qualities in forests important to support such salutogenic, i.e., health-promoting, benefits can be represented in forest simulation tools to allow quantitative analyses, e.g., long-term projections or trade-off analyses with other forest functions, such as biodiversity conservation, wood production, etc. Questions also remain about how different forest management regimes might impact such perceived qualities in forests. Here, we defined three types of salutogenic forest characteristics (SFCs), referred to as Deep, Spacious, and Mixed forest characteristics, respectively. We did so by using the perceived sensory dimension (PSD) model, which describes and interrelates more fundamental perceived qualities of recreational outdoor environments that are important to support people's health and well-being. We identified proxy variables for the selected PSD models in boreal forest stands and compared the effect of five different management regimes on both individual PSD models and the derived SFCs when projecting a forest landscape 100 years into the future. Our results suggest combinations of protection (set-aside) and variations of continuous cover forestry as the most promising strategies to achieve these salutogenic properties in the long-term future. Depending on the SFC in focus and the specific management regime used, between 20% and 50% of the landscape could support associated properties in the long term (100 years). This might impact how forests should be managed when salutogenic outcomes are considered alongside, e.g., wood production and other forest contributions.


forest planning; perceived sensory dimensions; health; well-being; psychological restoration; cultural ecosystem services; recreation

Published in

2024, Volume: 15, number: 6, article number: 969