Chronic stress and little physical activity play an increasing role in dominant civilization diseases. The positive contribution of nature to health has been examined in a multitude of studies. The ambition of this study is to review the present state of international research on exposure to forests and its specific effects on human health, particularly stress-reducing effects. The review focusses on research in Asia and Germanspeaking countries (GSC) in Europe, distinguishing between forest benefits for physical and mental well-being. Considering the objective of the EU Forest Action Plan (FAP) to contribute to quality of life by improving the social dimensions of forests, it also examines and compares the forest strategies and programmes of GSC. With regard to plan implementation at national levels, attention is drawn to preventive health care aspects. The results are discussed and challenges, especially for forestry in GSC, are deduced.
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