Social Forestry comprises of health and well-being programmes run in a woodland setting, often involving woodland management tasks or woodland craft activities. Programmes are designed to build self-confidence, self-esteem, and social interaction. The Woodland Skills Centre in Wales rather aptly refers to Social Forestry as “Forest Schools for Grown Ups”! The majority of projects that we run at Coed Lleol can be referred to as Social Forestry programmes.
Social Forestry is an activity that can be prescribed by your GP, in lieu or in addition to drugs – this is referred to as Social Prescribing. Social Prescribing recognizes that some physical and mental health problems cannot be cured by prescribed drugs, or prescribed drugs alone. A GP, Nurse or other primary care professional may refer people to services in their local area that promote well-being, encourage social inclusion, endorse self-care and often, connect to nature. At Coed Lleol, we work alongside GP surgeries in Wales and GPs refer patients to our programmes via Social Prescribing.
Social Forestry and Social Prescribing are fast growing fields and research into this sector is international. At Coed Lleol we have a team of researchers who dedicate there time to investigating the efficacy of our work and widening the parameters of knowledge in the field. Natasha Simons, Heli Gittins and Ed Lord have written a spectacular and details report on Social Prescribing and Social Forestry, which you can access here: RESEARCH QUARTERLY FINAL