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Woodland as working space: where is the restorative green idyll?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>08/2013
<mark>Journal</mark>Social Science and Medicine
Volume91
Number of pages6
Pages (from-to)135-140
Publication statusPublished
Early online date1/03/13
Original languageEnglish
Event14th International Medical Geography Symposium (IMGS) - Durham, United Kingdom
Duration: 10/07/201115/07/2011

Conference

Conference14th International Medical Geography Symposium (IMGS)
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityDurham
Period10/07/1115/07/11

Abstract

Much has been written on the beneficial, restorative qualities of 'natural' (non-built) rural or urban 'green' space, including woodland, in promoting mental and physical health when accessed for leisure, sport and education. In contrast, with the exception of rural health studies, there is relatively little
debate about the health benefits of 'green space' as work place, especially in woodland and forests. In the UK, this apparent gap in the literature may be due to the invisibility of a tiny percentage of the workforce now employed in forestry. However, in recent years there has been a small, though significant, increase in opportunities to train and work in woodlands using traditional, sustainable management such as coppicing, and an exploration of health issues of woodland work is timely. This paper reports on findings from a secondary narrative analysis of oral history interviews selected from two phases of the Woodland Recollections Project and newsletters written by local people
historically and currently engaged in coppicing and woodland work in North West England. Perceptions of healthy working in green space are examined by applying key concepts of Attention Restoration Theory (ART). Findings suggest that woodland work environments involve many counter-restorative factors that can render the 'green idyll' detrimental to health and well-being. Successfully drawing on inherent restorative elements requires developing a high level of specialist skills that empower individuals to manage and maintain healthy working practices in these diverse and challenging environments.