Nature and Forest Therapy Guides
Guiding in the Age of COVID-19
Updated 29 June 2023

ANFT recommends and encourages all Guides & Participants to practice Forest Therapy with high regard for the safety of all life.   It is in this spirit that ANFT recommends that Guides & Participants alike take reasonable precautions for maintaining a safe and healthy environment for all.  

ANFT Guides operate globally, so the recommendations and ideas in this document should be adapted for the area where you guide. COVID-19 guidelines for each region can vary. It is each guide’s responsibility to know and follow your local guidelines.   ANFT does not mandate specific rules regarding COVID-19 but instead encourages everyone to refer to the recommendations of national and local governments and organizations such as The Centers for Disease Control (in the United States) and the World Health Organization (worldwide).

This document offers ideas on how to adapt guided Forest Therapy walks, immersions, and events. These ideas should not supersede official recommendations. Do not do anything that conflicts with your region’s local guidelines.

Safety Protocols & Precautions
Align with and follow your local governmental policies. Check your region’s website for its current policies for outdoor recreation.   Take note that additional precautions may be needed such as self-testing prior to and during travel, the use of masks, regular hand-washing and social distancing.  If such precautions are deemed necessary, it is important to communicate these with all participants and set clear expectations prior to gathering.

Stop the Spread: Plan Ahead
Do only what is safe for you, your participants, and their families.  COVID-19 can affect anyone but be aware that people with certain risk factors are more susceptible to experiencing severe reactions to the virus.  If a Participant or Guide with high risk factors is concerned about contracting the COVID-19 virus, they should consult with their healthcare provider before scheduling or participating in any in-person event.    

“Understanding the risk of COVID-19 for yourself and those around you can help you make informed decisions to keep you safe and healthy. If you have risk factors, have a COVID-19 plan in place in case you get sick, and discuss that plan with your healthcare provider and those close to you. Learn what extra precautions you can take to protect yourself and others in settings that make you more likely to be exposed to COVID-19.” – Centers for Disease Control

Setting the Container for COVID-19 Safety      
From the moment guides first greet participants, they should set and maintain the container. Stepping into the role of enforcing certain guidelines is not always comfortable for guides but it is important when safety is concerned. Be ready to enforce the safety guidelines you put in place. Are you ready to send someone home if they exhibit symptoms?

Hospitality and Introduction
Setting a safe container begins with hospitality and introduction. It's important to create awareness for people regarding their safety in the space for guided walks or the in-person trainings. Consider including COVID-19 safety protocols as part of the awareness part of the introduction (as you mention plant life and animal life that need space from humans). For example, does the space have hand washing facilities? If not, do you provide hand sanitizers etc.?

Ideas in this document pertaining to guiding are not medically proven or based on evidence. Always give official recommendations from health organizations priority over the ideas offered here. Use these ideas at your own risk; ANFT is not responsible for any spread of disease that may occur during walks guided by ANFT-trained guides. If you are not willing to accept full responsibility for the safety of your guiding practices DO NOTGUIDE in-person walks.