The Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Biodiversity Management Bureau (DENR-BMB) has entered into a partnership with the private sector for the creation of more green spaces in urban areas, similar to the forest bathing concept developed in Japan in the 1980s.

The “Urban Forest Bathing Project,” which is part of BMB’s Urban Biodiversity Program, aims to promote the conservation of biodiversity and develop and maintain green spaces within the cities to provide ecosystem services to Filipinos.

DENR Secretary Roy A. Cimatu said the project is “a win-win for both the environment and the people,” noting its many benefits to the mental and emotional well-being for people living in urban areas.

“The Urban Forest Bathing Project not only will help the environment, as more trees and land spaces will be used for this if deemed successful; it will also help the people nourish their mental and emotional well-being,” Cimatu said during the celebration of the World Wetlands Day on Feb. 2.

Forest bathing is based on a Japanese concept called shinrin-yoku, with shinrin meaning “forest,” and yoku meaning “bathing.”

Developed in Japan during the 1980s, forest bathing means taking in the forest atmosphere during a leisurely walk.

The environment chief added that he looks forward to the BMB’s promotion of forest bathing in urban areas as health is increasingly becoming a priority for people living in cities.

“I firmly believe that forest bathing can also be a hit in the Philippines as long as we protect and conserve our forests especially our protected areas and our wetlands,” Cimatu said.

The project, which is covered by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), will be undertaken in collaboration with the Philippine Tropical Forest Conservation Foundation (PTFCF), the Philippine Association of Landscape Architects (PALA), and the Philippine Institute of Environmental Planners (PIEP).

Under the MOU, the BMB shall lead the implementation of the project with concerned DENR regional and field offices and local government units (LGU), issue policy recommendations and guidelines on its establishment, and assist in the formulation of the detailed Site Development Plan of each area identified for urban forest bathing.

 

It shall also monitor and evaluate periodically the progress of the implementation of urban forest bathing.

The PTFCF shall conduct scientific and technical research to generate knowledge on urban biodiversity conservation and support to urban forest bathing and the formulation of policy guidelines for the establishment of urban forest bathing. It shall collaborate with BMB for the preparation and implementation of the project.

Meanwhile, PALA is tasked to lead in the formulation of the detailed Site Development Plan of each area identified for urban forest bathing by providing technical specifications, requirements, and directive for the design, among others.

PIEP shall provide technical recommendations for the land use, zoning and strategic development plan for the establishment of urban forest bathing sites, and identify applicable codes and regulations to the development of the areas for urban forest bathing. It shall also support the formulation of policy guidelines for the establishment of urban forest bathing. #