This Medical Center Prescribes Nature, and Fills Prescriptions On-Site

We inrx_nature the Nature Explore family don’t need a study to tell us that nature has many positive benefits for our physical, mental and spiritual health. We feel these benefits in ourselves, and see them in the children who play in our outdoor classrooms. Yet if nature is so good for our health, why aren’t doctors prescribing time outdoors?

They are, across the country, thanks to the “Rx For Outdoor Activity” training given by The National Environmental Education Foundation (NEEF). Doctors who have taken this training are qualified to write prescriptions for nature and to address children’s health issues as they relate to nature and the environment.

One of these Nature Champions is Daniel Porter, MD, Medical Director of the Lone Star Family Health Center (LSFHC), in Conroe, Texas. Lone Star also has a new Nature Explore Classroom on grounds. Doctors there are writing prescriptions for patients to spend time in the outdoor classroom. These are not simply verbal recommendations, but true prescriptions that are entered into the patient’s electronic health record. This is the first Nature Explore Classroom directly on the grounds of a federally qualified health center, and a model for future replication elsewhere.

To read the full article, click here

Forest Bathing to Improve Health

loc_forestbathingFirst prescribed by Henry David Thoreau in 1854, eco-therapy is now scientifically proven to improve wellbeing. Forest bathing – basically just being in the presence of trees – is a type of eco-therapy that has proven to lower heart rate, blood pressure, stress hormone production, and increase the immune system and general feelings of wellbeing. This method of relaxation and health practice is gaining popularity, and not a minute too soon.

A forest bath requires a person to just immerse themselves in nature and relax, instead of trying to accomplish anything. For 8 years, Japanese researchers studied the physiological and psychological effects of this method. They found a boost in the immune system of participants, due to an increase in natural killer cells. These cells provide rapid responses to viral-infected cells and respond to tumor formation, and are associated with immune system health and cancer prevention. These positive affects after a few hours in the forest can last for up to a month. These effects can be attributed to phytoncide found in plants and trees in the forests. Trees use this essential oil to protect themselves against bacteria and insects, and humans can use it for an improved immune system.

Nature also had physiological results on participants. They had greater activity in their parasympathetic nerves, which controls the body’s ability to rest and relax. The psychological benefits from forest bathing involved reduced hostility and depressive tendencies among the participants.

Due to the findings of this study, the Japanese government implemented 48 therapy trails throughout local forests. To read the full article, click here.

Tampa Adopts Urban Forest Management Plan

Florida Urban Forest CouncilWork on Tampa’s Urban Forest Management Plan began in 2008 when the Steering Committee on Urban Forest Sustainability developed a vision statement and six goals.

Vision: Maintain and expand Tampa’s urban forest in recognition of the many benefits it provides, including: enhancing quality of life for present and future citizens, attaining numerous economic and ecological benefits Nature provides, and seizing opportunities to better understand our natural environment through scientific research and public education.

In 2010 the city council funded the development of “a science-based comprehensive Urban Forest Management Plan”.  The plan was developed based on A Model of Urban Forest Sustainability (Clark, J.R., Matheny, N.P., Cross, G., and Wake, V. 1997 Journal of Arboriculture.) and includes criteria and indicators adopted on work of W.A. Kenney, P.J.E. van Wassenaer, and A.L. Satel in Criteria and indicators for strategic urban forest planning and management. (2011)  The criteria and performance indicators have been organized into four major topic areas: Vegetation Resource; Community Framework; Institutional Framework; and Resource Management.

Review or download this plan at Urban Forestry South.  Photo credit: Florida Urban Forest Council.


New Changing Roles Materials Available

Module-5-smallThe Changing Roles Professional Development Program provides state and federal natural resource agencies and partner organizations with a set of flexible resources to conduct their own training programs, aimed toward building skills and tools to successfully tackle WUI issues. Materials include trainer’s guides, exercises, fact sheets, case studies, DVDs, and presentations. The original four module topics include: (1) Wildland-Urban Interface Issues and Connections; (2) Managing Interface Forests; (3) Land-Use Planning and Policy; (4) Communicating with Interface Residents and Leaders.
We recently added a fifth module that addresses a range of emerging issues in the wildland-urban interface and strategies for addressing them, including topics such as climate change, firewood movement, interface entrepreneurs, succession planning, ecosystem services, environmental justice, partnerships, and the benefits of outdoor activity for children.  A few of the materials in this module are still in development, so check back later for more. To view these new module materials click here.

New Changing Roles Materials Available

The Changing Roles Professional Development program provides natural resource agencies and other organizations with a set of flexible resources for building the knowledge and tools required to address wildland-urban interface issues. Our newest module addresses emerging issues, such as climate change, ecosystem services, environmental justice, interface entrepreneurs, and succession planning. This new module includes fact sheets, exercises, Powerpoint presentations, and case studies. Additional fact sheets and exercises will be added in the future. To view this module visit:

2013 Changing Roles Leadership Award Nomination

The Southern Wildland-Urban Interface Council (SWUIC) is pleased to invite nominations for the third annual Changing Roles Leadership Award.  The Changing Roles Professional Development Program helps resource professionals learn and apply knowledge and skills to meet evolving needs in the complex context of the wildland-urban interface.  As the landscape and our clientele change in urbanizing areas, so does the role of natural resource management agencies.  The Changing Roles Leadership Award recognizes and honors a person embracing this change and demonstrating leadership in the Changing Roles Program ideals.  Please consider nominating individuals who are making significant contributions to the following:

·      Interface forest management (ie. small parcels)

·      Land-use decision making processes

·      Effective communication with interface residents and community leaders

·      Emerging resource management issues in the interface such as ecosystem services, succession planning, climate change, or environmental justice.

This award will be presented by the SWUIC at the Southern Group of State Foresters meeting in Savannah, Georgia. Click Nomination Form Changing Roles Leadership Award 2013 to nominate for the 2013 Changing Roles Leadership Award. The deadline to turn in the nomination forms is March 8, 2013. Please contact InterfaceSouth with any questions or nominations for this important award.

Annie Hermansen-Baez

USDA Forest Service

PO Box 110806

Gainesville, FL 32611

Phone: (352) 376-3271

Fax: (352) 376-4536


Issue 13, November 2012 Leaves of Change Bulletin

In this issue of the Leaves of Change bulletin you will learn about a collaborative project taking place in DeSoto County, an urbanizing county south of Memphis, TN, in which i-Tree software is being utilized to better understand the environmental and monetary benefits received from the county’s forests.You will also learn about the Centers’ recent training and outreach activities, recommended resources, and upcoming events related to urban and interface forestry.

To view this issue click here.