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Finding well-being in the forest

Edited on

17 November 2020
Read time: 2 minutes

According to research, spending time in nature can lead to significant health benefits. In Espoo, promoting well-being is now easier than before, thanks to the new Olari health nature trail in the Kokinmetsä forest opened in 2019. 

One of the primary goals of the Olari health nature trail is to support the mental health of Espoo residents. The nature trail encourages everyone to take a break from stressful and busy everyday life and get in touch to the sensations of their mind and body. Therefore the nature trail is easily accessible on foot or bicycle, public transport or car, and can be entered from several places. In addition the path is designed in such a way that you can start from any of the stops and follow the trail in either direction.

The Olari health nature trail meanders through various landscapes in the Kokinmetsä forest. The idea is to offer a chance to experience more natural elements that have a positive effect on health than an average nature trail. The approximately 2.4 km long path leads the visitor through eight checkpoints with three separate exercises each. The stops are designed to gain nature knowledge and experiences by inviting you to play. The path has been constructed with a view to the three main target groups, and it is expected to serve a wide variety of users: school and day-care children, those unfamiliar with the forest as a place and those who are seeking the health benefits offered by the forest.  All the  signs  are written in  Finnish, Swedish and English so multicultural  Espoo citizens can all enjoy the trail and learn more on nature’s health benefits.

Health nature trail (brown dot line on the map) is located in the  middle of Espoo’s central park. Red arrows on the map show spots where one can park car. Inside white box there are topics of the eight signs found on the trail

For children, the trail offers memorable learning experiences, and for those familiarising themselves with the forest, it provides a guided way to build their own relationship with nature and find new information. For those seeking health benefits, the exercises along the path offer the visitor a way to boost energy or compose oneself.

The trail has been created with a large and diverse crowd and the goal was to gather representatives from several organisations. In addition to residents' association Olari-seura, the involved parties include the Olari Parish, two scout troops, representatives from day care centers and schools and the mental health association. The Environmental Design Team of the City of Espoo was responsible for the design and execution of the nature trail. The Healthy Espoo development programme funded the health nature trail and participated in its design and implementation.

In  Health & Greenspace  Espoo will write small manual on who Olari health nature trail was made as  project’s small scale action.   Manual will help other cities copy Olari trail’s idea and method and hopefully help other cities make their own health nature trails with citizens.

Written by Laura Lundgren from our partner city, Espoo

More information about The Olari health nature trail and other nature trails in Espoo: