Green4C interviews: Chia-pin Yu, NTU Professor

Chatting with the world’s leading experts in Green Care

Good morning Professor Yu, we are very excited to be launching this series of virtual interviews together with you! Would you kindly introduce yourself to our readers?

I’m an Associate Professor of School of Forestry and Resource Conservation, National Taiwan University (NTU), Deputy Director of the Experimental Forest of NTU, and Fulbright Harvard Visiting Scholar at T.H. Chan School of Public Health. I obtained a doctoral degree from Recreation, Park and Tourism Studies Department, School of Public Health, Indiana University Bloomington. My research interests lie in the nature, recreation and human health, forest therapy, wellness tourism, and new technology application on nature-based recreation and tourism management. I apply evidence-based approach to quantify the physiological and psychological benefits of nature exposure (actual and virtual) and recreational experience from health perspective.

“Healthy forests, healthy people” we are all connected. I believe when people can find health from nature, they will be highly motived towards protecting nature. C.-P. Yu

What can you tell us about the Green Care projects you have worked on in the Taiwanese context?

Pretty much all of my research projects are related to Green Care. For example, in the “Healthy Forests, Healthy People” project during 2016-2018, our team studied psychophysiological health benefits of forest bathing in relation to environmental characteristics. In another project in 2019, we explored health effects of forest therapy on middle-aged and elderly individual. More recently, in collaboration with faculties of Medical School at NTU, we investigated how forest therapy improves cognitive functions, and elucidate the efficacy of forest therapy on anti-aging from a brain and cognitive sciences perspective. It should be further noted that we have deployed VR nature (an application combining virtual reality and nature experience) to a selected palliative ward for patients’ quality of life.

Please tell us about your latest research; our readers are looking forward to know about your recent results.

One of my latest article, called “Beyond restorative benefits: Evaluating the effect of forest therapy on creativity” was published in Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, and was nominated for Elsevier ATLAS Award dedicated to SDG 15 Life on Land. The research goes beyond traditional restorative effects study and illustrates forest therapy contributes to creativity. The study indicates that the 3 days forest therapy workshop contributed to participants’ physical and mental health by regulating physiological responses as well as increasing positive emotions and reducing negative emotions. In regards to the creativity enhancement, the forest therapy workshop improved participants’ creative performances by 27.74 %, which shows how forest therapy is beneficial for high-level cognitive functioning. Moreover, the change in creativity correlated significantly and negatively with change in the confusion–bewilderment emotion. This study extends typical forest therapy stress-recovery research by investigating high-level cognitive functioning (i.e. creativity). The contribution of this study is in the use of the creativity task in a forest therapy study, in addition to comparing the changes in creativity to changes in different aspects of mood.

Publication details

Yu, C.-P. & Hsieh, H. (2020)
Beyond Restorative Benefits: Evaluating the Effect of Forest Therapy on Creativity.
Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 51, 126670.

In your opinion, how can the health and nature sectors work together to improve people’s quality of life? Even in this time of global emergency.

The prevalence of mental stress and chronic diseases is high in modern society, and exposure to nature has become a crucial approach for stress relief which, in turn, contributes positively to human health. The use of forest environments as a space for improving health and healing is known as forest therapy, which has become one of the major forest management purposes in developed countries. An example of developing forest therapy practices in the Experimental Forest of National Taiwan University (EXFO, NTU), the EXFO works with the NTU Hospital, Academia Sinica, and fields related to public health to proceed with researches on forest health care. Following these evidence-based researches, we develop forest therapy programs which are organized for people of different ages. Programmes include yoga, relaxing exercises, field observation, exploration, experience, and sharing during which users can feel the body and spirit relaxing. Further, local communities joined forest therapy program supporting system to extend activities of forest therapy. In conclusion, we applied forest therapy research knowledge into forest leisure activities not only to improve public health, but also to improve community’seconomic livelihood. By using forest resources, research funding, revenue of participants, and services from cooperating communities, this is a successful model for the development of forest therapy in EXFO, and are innovational way to promote tourist health, encourage researcher pay more attention on nature, recreation and human health, improve communities’ economy, and keep a sustainable forest leisure business.  While we are all grounded by mother nature during the pandemic, connecting with nature demonstrates importance for improving health. People with mobility constraints such as patients, nursing home seniors, or city residents in a stay-at-home order during the pandemic, they should take an advantage from virtual natural settings by using VR nature solution. In a case of patients in palliative ward, they expressed immersion in virtual nature make them escape hospital and feel relax.

And it is time for our last question: what do you think the future challenges for nature and health together might be?

An important issue promoting green for care is that we should let more people recognize the efficacy of nature on human health. An awareness of nature and health for general public and policy makers could derive more resources reallocate to the practices. Additionally, while in cooperation with stakeholders, the nature intervantions could be developed into a sustainable business model.

References of the interviewee

Chia-pin Yu, Associate Professor of School of Forestry and Resource Conservation, National Taiwan University (NTU), Deputy Director of the Experimental Forest of NTU, and Fulbright Harvard Visiting Scholar at T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

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