Who fancies bathing in a forest in Northern Ireland?

The National Trust is encouraging people to take a bath in an NI forest this weekend ... though no swimsuit is required.

By Graeme Cousins
Thursday, 9th September 2021, 4:43 pm

Forest bathing or ‘shinrin-yoku’ was first developed in Japan in the 1980s – it means the practice of slowing down and immersing yourself in the forest atmosphere.

Visitors to Minnowburn on the outskirts of Belfast will be able to experience forest bathing in the utmost comfort thanks to the installation of three new forest bathing beds, just in time for International Forest Bathing Day on Saturday.

Funded by Tourism Northern Ireland’s Experiences Development Programme, the benches have been designed by a local company using oak wood and feature quotes from National Trust co-founder Octavia Hill.

The beds have been positioned in areas of the forest specially chosen to make the most of the seasonal views and will be moved to different spots throughout the year.

Angie Watson, Experience and Visitor Programming Manager for the National Trust in Belfast, said: “We are thrilled to have completed the installation of the forest bathing beds at Minnowburn.

“As we emerge from a global pandemic and face into a national mental health crisis, allowing people to connect to nature has never been so important. Minnowburn, close to the city centre of Belfast, is the ideal place to invite busy people to step back and reconnect with the natural world.

“We wanted to take the concept of forest bathing to the next level; inviting participation by creating high quality and beautifully crafted beds which allow people to relax, see the sky from a new perspective, and experience the forest in a completely new way.

“We hope that the beds will encourage people to simply be still, calm and quiet in the forest, allowing them to observe nature, breathe deeply and relax.”

Meanwhile landowners in Northern Ireland are being asked to consider planting trees to help tackle the climate and nature emergencies.

The Woodland Trust Northern Ireland is hosting a series of woodland clinics at the Balmoral Show from September 22 to 25 where landowners can find out more about different grants available to help farmers create woodland on their land.

Gregor Fulton, Outreach Manager for the Woodland Trust Northern Ireland, said: “If you’re thinking of planting trees on your land, we have the trees, grants and funding schemes to help.

“There are so many reasons to plant trees. They provide shade and shelter for livestock, transform unproductive land, extend the grazing season, enrich soils, offer a solution for biosecurity, in addition to all the environmental benefits.”

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