LEAF - Gesundheitsrelevante Effekte unterschiedlicher urbaner Waldstrukturen


Start: 01.10.2022
Duration: 36 Month
Funded by: DFG
Local Head of Project: Prof. Dr. Elisabeth André
© University of Augsburg

About the Project

Learning about the Effects of Augsburg Forest

Stress can be triggered by a variety of factors and is harmless to body and mind as long as it is below the person-specific coping threshold. However, stress becomes a problem when it is chronically present, as it can trigger various serious illnesses. In addition to the reduction of stress triggers, there are various techniques that promote the reduction of stress. One such method is the so-called forest bathing or "Shirin Yoku", which has been studied and used in Japanese culture for a long time. However, the extent to which forest bathing and certain forest paths are particularly suitable for this purpose is an unresolved question that will be addressed in more detail in the LEAF project.
The LEAF project is funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) for three years. It is an interdisciplinary cooperation between the computer science chair of Professor André and the geographers Dr. Christoph Beck from the University of Augsburg and Joachim Rathmann from the Julius-Maximilians-University of Würzburg. Medical support is additionally provided by Dr. Linda Becker from the Friedrich-Alexander University of Erlangen-Nuremberg.
This project focuses on the Augsburg city forest (Siebentischwald), which is already used by many Augsburg residents for local recreation. In several field studies, qualitative data by means of questionnaires as well as quantitative information by means of mobile environmental sensors, physiological data from mobile devices and cortisol saliva samples will be collected and analyzed. Cortisol samples are a medically recognized method for measuring the current stress level based on the hormone cortisol, which is released during stress, and therefore serve as a reference as to whether stress reduction occurs during the forest walk. We want to go beyond subjective experiences and explore the objective possibilities through physiology to measure the potential contribution of the forest to reduce stress levels. While the duration of the project, studies will be conducted over several months in addition to more short-term effects of forest walking on stress levels.