“I was out hunting and I felt energy come up through the ground, the river. The energy of love, that’s what hit me: full love. Mother Nature showed me she loved me too.” Andrew Solomon is an Eastern Kuku Yalanji man from Mossman in north Queensland, and he has no doubt that we humans are one with the planet. In case you don’t know what the Eastern Kuku Yalanji know, the scientific jury is in: forests are good for us. From camping and Shinrin-yoku – or forest bathing – as it is called in Japan to birdwatching and hiking, getting outdoors and into trees and green spaces has massive benefits for our physical, mental and spiritual health. “There are utilitarian benefits to engaging with forests,” Professor Valentine notes. “The first is physical health. In order to engage you have to get out of your comfort zone, you go walking, exercise, and you add clean air. You can’t get better oxygen-saturated air than in a tropical rainforest.” The benefits of forests run deeper than a good hit of oxygen, views and feel-good hormones; soil-associated bacteria, fungi and viruses stimulate our immune system when we interact with them. And, connection with nature, “…Can lift people out of depression and bring us into a more vibrant experience of life. It’s something we don’t get nearly enough of. It’s music for the soul,” said Valentine.

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