A trail used for Forest Therapy in Central Ontario, Canada

A trail used for Forest Therapy in Central Ontario, Canada

A Good Forest Therapy Trail Is One That Has:

- Safety from hazards like dead trees and broken branches
- A section of forest, meadow and flowing water
- A consistent trail substrate such as woodchips, gravel, solid soil, or paved or concrete surface
- Access to mindfully venture off trail for walk invitations
- Access to water such as a stream, river, pond or lake shore
- Access to toilets and parking at the trail head
- A wide diversity of plant species
- Coniferous trees like cedar, spruce, hemlock, pine, and others
- A relatively flat grade or options for universal access

While the above points make a good Forest Therapy Trail, not all good forest therapy trails need all of the above elements. An Official Trail Designator (OTD) has been trained to assess trails, making recommendations for managers to improve trails and to gain and maintain Trail Designation. If you are a certified Forest Therapy Guide and interested in becoming a OTD, please contact us to see how to gain OTD Status with GIFT - info@giftoftheforest.com

Our team at GIFT is gladly accepting nominations to Designate Trails for Forest Therapy. See how the City of Markham (below) has done this, becoming the first Designation in Canada. Contact us for a Trail Assessment Package, detailed the steps required, the cost, and the time needed to Designate a Trail in your community or on your land. info@giftoftheforest.com

this is Why we designate trails

Forest Bathing; Edge of a Shallow Stream

Forest Bathing; Edge of a Shallow Stream

1. Raising Local Awareness of Forest Therapy
Japan has dozens of official Shinrin Yoku or Forest Therapy Bases, areas in which one can be sure the site and its trail(s) is/are highly suitable for Shinrin Yoku (for more info on designating a trail in your community, see bottom of this page or email info@giftoftheforest.com). These are also places where researchers can conduct studies on the many health and nature connection benefits of Shinrin Yoku. We are inspired by this model in Japan.

Shinrin Yoku/ Forest Bathing: Edge of a Pond

Shinrin Yoku/ Forest Bathing: Edge of a Pond

2. Access to Self-Guided and Guide-Lead Walks
Creating a network of trails that are officially designated by The Global Institute of Forest Therapy will permit for recognition of high standards and suitable sites in which local community residents may participate in self-guided Forest Therapy walks using signs written in collaboration with GIFT and local site managers. Further, those wishing to hire or attend walks lead by a certified Forest Therapy Guide can contact us for a local listing of Certified Guides and thus create the ability to support a new aspect of local economies.  

3. Creating Added Value to Urban Natural Areas
Natural areas can co-exist in any sized town or urban area. Such habitats are removed when they are not highly valued. Low impact, highly beneficial activities such as Forest Therapy reconnect people to the values of nature and foster strong ties for desired stewardship. 

4. Establishing Standards
All paths on different trails vary and that's often a big part of enjoying a walk outside. However, there are several features that make one trail better than another in terms of its effectiveness for Forest Therapy. When one encounters GIFT's name and logo on a trail, one can be sure it is high quality and highly beneficial for the practices of Forest Therapy. 

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A First for Canada:

Congratulations, Markham, Ontario

Welcome to Canada's first Designated Forest Therapy/ Shinrin Yoku Trail: Markham's Springdale Park! See Article in Ground Magazine to learn more.

GIFT has just announced, in September 2018, a similar but distinctive Forest Therapy Trail Designation Program. The City of Markham, Ontario, has retained GIFT to evaluate, designate and present Canada's first Designated Forest Therapy Trails. Official designation is on Friday September 28th, at Springdale Park in Markham, Ontario, Canada. 


GIFT proudly recognizes Markham,ON as the 1st Designated Shinrin Yoku/ Forest Therapy Trail in Canada!

I came with a friend to one of the walks hosted on Markham’s recently designated Forest Therapy Trail. This experience allowed me to connect with nature in a profound way, and engaging all senses provided a very energizing and humbling feeling. The guide was very knowledgeable, approachable, and passionate, and I learned so much about mindfulness opportunities as well as the beautiful flora and fauna around us. Now that there is an opportunity for a self-guided Forest Therapy walk, I highly encourage it!
— Sofia M, Markham

Trails within a given area are designated based on criteria of the surrounding natural area, the trail itself, and a multitude of other factors relating to biodiversity, access to natural flowing water and other key therapeutic elements, trail substrate,and even practical elements such as washroom/toilet access, clear, well presented signage, benches, and so on. 


To learn the process, the time and financial commitment for trail designation, email us for a consultation to see if your site may qualify and how we could work together for Trail Designation. 

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We are looking for experienced Certified Forest Therapy Guides who have a broad understanding of trail criteria related to Forest Therapy, ecology and other key parameters. Please contact us about consulting for GIFT on this worthwhile new Trail Designation Program.