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University of Navarra, Foresna-Zurgaia, Basartea and Gure Sustraiak join forces to develop an environmental and social project in the Ollo Valley.

The implementation of the "forest baths" aims at developing the rural environment, bringing nature closer to society and the insertion of people with intellectual disabilities.

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30/09/20 08:00 Enrique Cobos

University of Navarra, Foresna-Zurgaia, Basartea and Gure Sustraiak have joined forces for the design and implementation of BiBos 6.0, an environmental and social initiative consisting of the design and the implementation of a pilot program of forest baths in the Ollo Valley. "BiBos 6.0 will favor the partnership between the forestry, social and health sectors with the goal to put Navarra as a leader in the use of its magnificent forests for human welfare", says Nati Gómez, forestry engineer of Basartea.

Forest bathing -internship common in some countries such as Japan - is an activity that consists of immersing people in the natural environment to improve their well-being, thanks to the benefits provided by nature. "Many of us have experienced that we feel good to be in the countryside, at a lake or at the beach. In recent years a growing issue of programs of study shows that contact with nature is beneficial for our physical and mental health," says Ana Villarroya, professor and researcher at School of Sciences of the University of Navarra.

subsidy The project -awarded to Foresna last April by Fundación La Caixa and Fundación Caja Navarra through the Innovasocial program-has a budget of 60,000 euros and will run until April 2022. This pilot project will be developed with a methodology of social innovation by co-creation, in which the participants collaborate in the design from the beginning.

The first phases of the project will be oriented to the exploration and conditioning of the environment, identification of interest groups, bibliographic search and training of guides. The socioeconomic development of the rural environment is one of the strengths of this demonstrative project . "It is an interesting opportunity for landowners to value their forests through the healthy benefit given by contact with them. This will require obtaining an income for their use and enjoyment", emphasizes Juan Miguel Villarroel, General Manager of Foresna-Zurgaia.

The core of project will be developed in phase three, during the months of March, April and May 2021, and in it the pilot activity will be implemented with the participation of residents and workers of the Gure Sustraiak farm school, promoting the integration and participation of people with intellectual disabilities. "It is core topic in the project the active participation before, during and after the activity of people with disabilities living in our apartments in the Ollo Valley. In addition, we will apply the methodology that emerges to improve the quality of life of all participants; people with disabilities and educators", explains Raúl Pilar, director of the farm school Gure Sustraiak.

Phases 4, 5 and 6 of project are focused on data analysis, monitoring, assessment, knowledge dissemination, as well as drawing conclusions for potential implementation in other territories.