FOREST SELFNESS IN SLOVENIA
Slovenia is a land of forests, as they cover 58.2% of its homeland. In terms of forest cover, Slovenia ranks third in the European Union, behind Sweden and Finland. According to the share of the European Natura 2000 network for the conservation of biodiversity, it ranks first in the EU with 38%. According to the WEF (2019), Slovenia ranks 26th among the estimated 140 countries in terms of its use of natural resources. In 2019, Slovenia was in the 1st place in terms of the share of protected territory and in 16th place in terms of environmental quality.
Recreational and tourist use of forests in Slovenia is therefore on the rise. There are several reasons, including the favourable characteristics and contents of the forests in Slovenia for this type of use. Through its promotion of Slovenia as a boutique, green and healthy country, the Slovenian Tourist Board directly influences the development of tourist products in unspoiled nature.
Slovenian primaeval forests
UNWTO describes forest tourism as rural tourism “activities take place in non-urban (rural) areas with the following characteristics: i) low population density, ii) landscape and landuse dominated by agriculture and forestry and iii) traditional social structure and lifestyle”.
Innovative forest tourism products originating from the Nordic countries as well as Japan and China are confirmed by numerous studies from abroad. Research on the impacts of forest tourism products that have a beneficial effect on stress reduction (Ohe, Ikei, Song, and Miyazaki, 2017), studying the motivation for the well-being of tourists in natural tourism products (Kim, Lee, Uysal, Kim, and Ahn, 2015) and motivational patterns of tourists in choosing tourist products in nature (Tangeland, 2011), confirm the growing trend of innovative forest tourism products.
The tourist product called ”Forest selfness” received the Snovalec award in 2014, as the most innovative tourist product in Slovenia, an innovative approach in the field of well-being tourism. Forest Selfness is a new green trend in Slovenian tourism. A special experience in the heart of the forests is based on taking the existing selfness offers into nature, with natural materials and local products.
The innovative selfness programme takes place in Cerkno forests in Slovenia and includes natural materials and local products – it represents a new green trend in Slovenian tourism (https://www.slovenia.info/en/press-centre/news-of-the-tourism-press-agency/6033-forest-selfness-in-slovenia).
The programmes include different types of so called forest bathing techniques: efficient stress management techniques, guided natural sound therapy while resting in hammocks, natural reflexology – walk on spruce needles to release energy blockage and restore energy balance, relaxing bodily exercises and self-improvement techniques under the treetops, presentation of different trees and their energies as well as exercises for transmittance of the energy, guided meditation for deep relaxation in idyllic natural environment and culinary delights from natural and organic products – all in the forest.
‘Forest bathing opens the doors of our senses and fully engages us with the healing powers of nature. The methods of forest bathing bring our bodies and minds into a relaxed and quiet state, where we are fully aware of where we are and what we are experiencing in the present moment. A simple motto- “The forest is the healer; the practice opens the doors” –is a reliable guide.’
– M. Amos Clifford, author of Your Guide to Forest Bathing, founder and director of the global Association of Nature and Forest Therapy Guides and Programs.
Treetop walk Pohorje
In the autumn of 2019, the Rogla-Pohorje destination in Slovenia acquired a new tourist experience, the Treetop walk Pohorje, which significantly contributed to the increase in the number of domestic tourists and interest in innovative tourist experiences in the forest.
Treetop walk Pohorje
The walk takes the visitor trough a diverse forest, where the primary object is education about forest life, animals and plants. It helps the visitor to connect with nature in a sense of emphasizing respect.
Through the popularization of tourist experiences in nature, specifically in the forest, it will become an increasingly popular trend in the future, which will motivate both domestic and foreign tourists to visit innovative products in nature. We highlighted the innovation and example of good practice in Slovenia for well-being products in forests and their opportunity to be further developed as a ground base for travellers to experience satisfaction and personal growth through nature based tourism products.