Nature and Forest Therapy Guides

Certified Forest Therapy Trails, Spaces & Places

Designating a natural area for nature and forest therapy is a resolute commitment to prioritize human well-being and safeguard the health of our environment. By certifying such a space for forest therapy, land managers and owners can offer solace and rejuvenation to visitors while also enjoying invaluable benefits. These include promoting environmental stewardship, fostering collaborations and partnerships, facilitating public engagement and education, enhancing land value and attractiveness, diversifying revenue streams, and ensuring long-term conservation and sustainability. By embracing the certification process and actively managing the land in a way that supports connection and relationship, land managers and owners play a vital role in providing transformative experiences in nature, conserving biodiversity, and inspiring a deeper connection between people and the natural world. Simultaneously, visitors gain access to a therapeutic haven, experiencing reduced stress, improved mental health, and a profound connection with nature.

If you are interested in having a trail, space or place considered for certification, we are here to support you.

Forest Therapy Trails, Spaces & Places Certification Interest Form

Certified Forest Therapy Designation

By certifying specific trails and natural areas, land managers play a vital role in providing intentional space to support transformative experiences in nature. Through certification, land managers can inspire a deeper connection between people and the natural world and engage visitors in new and innovative ways. Simultaneously, visitors gain access to a therapeutic haven, experiencing reduced stress, improved mental health and connection with nature.

The Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs (ANFT) has developed a standardized certification process and criteria for designating ANFT Certified Forest Therapy trails, spaces and places. ANFT's designation process is the result of extensive research, experience, field expertise and our belief that the simple act of going outside is physically healthy for people.

The standards and criteria developed by ANFT strive to provide consistency for participants in safe and accessible natural environments, while providing land managers with new and innovative ways to steward the land and connect with a greater diversity of visitors.

We consider trails, spaces and places for designation based on criteria such as the ecological health of the site, ease of access, safety, design considerations, and management. Additionally, we examine how infrastructure and signage can support both guided and self-guided Forest Therapy experiences.

This program establishes a comprehensive framework for identifying, assessing, stewarding, and activating natural spaces in order to facilitate and promote forest therapy experiences in nature. The certification criteria established can also be utilized to inform and support the design process for new trail development and site installation projects.

Certified Forest Therapy Trails, Spaces & Places have already been developed in many countries including the United States, Costa Rica, Slovenia, and Canada, certified by the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy (ANFT) in partnership with a ANFT Certification Consultant.

What are the benefits of having a certified forest therapy trail, space, or place?

Managers and staff who are stewards of natural areas often embrace, as a core part of their mission, developing programs that attract people to the land. Most often, these programs are recreation activity based or designed to improve one’s scientific knowledge of the natural world. Forest Therapy experiences offer another approach, encouraging participants to slow down and experience nature through their senses. Forest Therapy seeks to foster a deep, personal connection to the land, increasing the likelihood that visitors will repeatedly return to these places over and over again.

Having a network of certified forest therapy trails, spaces and places provides a foundational structure for guides and forest therapy practitioners to identify and utilize spaces that are not only conducive to the healing practices of forest therapy but are also recognized for their adherence to established standards of safety, accessibility, and ecological integrity. This certification ensures that the guides can confidently lead their participants into environments that have been professionally assessed and deemed beneficial for the immersive experiences that characterize forest therapy. Furthermore, it allows guides to focus on their core practice of facilitating deep connections between individuals and the natural world, knowing that the trails meet the necessary criteria to support the therapeutic journey. This network, therefore, acts as a vetted resource, enhancing the credibility of the guides while ensuring consistent and high-quality experiences for those seeking the restorative benefits of nature.

By designating natural areas as certified forest therapy sites, we unlock a range of benefits for land managers, participants and guides:

Community: Certified forest therapy sites strengthen the community fabric. These designated areas become gathering points for individuals who share a passion for nature and well-being. They create a sense of belonging and camaraderie among participants, fostering a supportive community where people can connect, share experiences, and learn from one another. This sense of community extends beyond the forest therapy sites, creating opportunities for collaboration, events, and initiatives that promote overall community well-being and environmental consciousness.

Reciprocity: Reciprocity is an inherent value of certified forest therapy sites. These spaces encourage a reciprocal relationship between participants and the natural environment. As individuals immerse themselves in the healing power of nature, they develop a deeper appreciation and understanding of the interconnectedness between humans and the ecosystem. This understanding inspires a sense of responsibility to give back and contribute to the well-being of the natural world. Through volunteer activities, conservation efforts, and regenerative practices, participants actively engage in reciprocity, recognizing that by caring for the environment, they enhance their own well-being and contribute to the flourishing of the larger ecosystem. This reciprocal relationship fosters a harmonious coexistence between humans and nature, benefiting both parties and creating a positive ripple effect in the broader community.

Engagement: Certified forest therapy trails, spaces and places offer innovative and unique opportunities for patron engagement. These designated spaces offer individuals seeking the healing benefits of nature, creating a platform for meaningful interactions and fostering a deep sense of connection.

Consistency: Certification ensures a consistent and high-quality experience for participants. With these guidelines and standards in place, certified forest therapy trails, spaces and places offer assurance that the site has been carefully assessed and evaluated to support an optimal environment for experiencing forest therapy.

Partnership: Certification fosters collaboration and partnerships among land managers, guides, and community stakeholders. By working together, we can collectively advocate for the value of forest therapy, raise awareness, and create a network of support that strengthens the practice and its impact.

ANFT certified trails, spaces & places are featured prominently on ANFT’s website on our Global Network of Certified Trails, Spaces & Places Map (via a pin drop), announced in our monthly newsletter reaching over 25,000 individuals and shared on our social media channels.

What types of locations or places are good candidates for certification?  
A suitable Forest Therapy Trail, Space or Place is an area where people of a wide range of fitness levels can interact with nature, primarily through their senses. The following descriptions help illustrate the types of areas that the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy considers for certification.

Trails - Trails play a significant role in providing access to nature and providing pathways in wild spaces for many types of outdoor recreational activities. Simply put, a trail is a designated path or route, typically found in natural environments, that allows for people to walk, hike or paddle through. Consider all trail types when exploring opportunities for certification (i.e. Water Trails - routes along shorelines, rivers, creeks, etc.).

Spaces - Spaces refer to specific areas within a natural environment that are conducive to providing accessible, immersive, sensory experiences. Spaces that may be suitable for certification include pollinator gardens, courtyards, tranquil meadows, secluded groves, open clearings or other natural spaces that offer a sense of peace, tranquility, and connection with the natural world. Forest therapy practitioners often identify and utilize these spaces to guide participants in areas where a trail is not present.

Places - These locations encompass a diverse range of natural settings, such as entire forests, woodlands, parks, arboretums and botanic gardens, offering ample pathways and opportunities for participants to deeply connect with nature.

Certifying "places" for forest therapy may involve identifying multiple trails and/or spaces within the site area with the potential to provide an ideal and supportive environment for forest therapy practices.

Ask yourself, "Is this a place where people can connect deeply with nature?" If the answer is yes, then the site is probably a good candidate for certification.

Sites considered for certification offer at a minimum:

   - Healthy & biodiverse ecosystem (flora & fauna)
    - Ample opportunities to engage with the natural world
    - Minimal noise and/or light pollution
    - Ease of Access (i.e. parking, entry fees, etc.)*
    - Restroom facilities
    - Access to water (preferred, not required)

The process of exploring for and discovering a suitable trail, space or place need not be confined to wild areas. It may also include places such as urban parks, landscaped grounds of hospitals, community gardens, arboretums and botanical gardens.

ANFT Certification Consultants are highly qualified professionals who have undergone extensive training and earned certification through ANFT as forest therapy guides. In addition to their comprehensive guide training, they have also completed specialized training to enhance their skills in consulting with land use managers, assessing site locations and providing recommendations for certification to ANFT’s global network of certified Forest Therapy Trails, Spaces & Places. To find an ANFT Certification Consultant in your area, please utilize the directory below. Our directory ensures that you have access to highly skilled, experienced professionals who can guide you through the certification process effectively.

Zoom in and click on a pin for more information. After you click on a pin a tile will appear; you can click on the tile for detailed information.

View Test Map in a full screen map