SLU Forest and Health

Last changed: 14 February 2023

Within Forest and Health at SLU, we conduct interdisciplinary research, developmental work and collaborate with the surrounding society.

We are specialists in the forest environment and collaborate with researchers in other disciplines, usually medicine and environmental psychology, to be able to answer our questions.

The goal of the research is to show the connections between the forest and human health: Which type of forest is most important for health? What happens to humans both physically and psychologically when they stay in the forest environment?

Luften är fri föredrag.jpg DRA ÅT SKOGEN - A seminar from SLU, Forest and Health (In Swedish)


During the spring of 2021, the SLU Forest and Health research group invited ten inspirational lectures on the web. On each occasion, two researchers presented different themes in the area of ​​Forests and human health. Each session consisted of 2 lectures (20 min each) and time for questions and discussion. YOU CAN FIND MORE INFORMATION FROM THE WEBINARS HERE! (In Swedish)


Selected publications

Cerwén, G., Pederssen, E. & Pálsdóttir, A.M. (2016). The role of soundscape in nature-based rehabilitation: a patient perspective/ patients ‘perspectives. Special issue: Landscape & Health, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 13, 1229 https://doi:10.3390/ijerph13121229

Dolling A, Nilsson H, Lundell Y. 2017. Stress recovery in forest or handicraft environments - An intervention studyUrban Forestry & Urban Greening 27:162-172.

Gentin, S., Pitkänen, K., Chondromatidou, A.M., Præstholm, S., Dolling, A. & Pálsdóttir, A.M. (2019). Nature-based integration of immigrants in Europe: a review. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening, 43.

Gunnarsson B, Knez I, Hedblom M, Ode Sang Å. 2017. Effects of biodiversity and environment-related attitude on perception of urban green space. Urban Ecosystem. 20, 37-49.

Hedblom M, Gunnarsson B, Iravani B, Knez I, Schaefer M, Thorsson P, Lundström JN. 2019. Reduction of physiological stress by urban green space in a multisensory virtual experiment. 2019. Scientific Reports.

Hedblom M, Heyman E, Antonsson H, Gunnarsson B. 2014. Bird song diversity influences people´s appreciation of urban landscapes. Urban Forest & Urban Greening. Vol 13: 3, 469–474

Hedblom M, Knez I, Ode-Sang Å, Gunnarsson B. 2017. Evaluation of natural sounds in urban  greenery: potential impact for urban nature preservation. Royal Society Open Science. 4:170037.

Knez I, Gunnarsson B, Ode Sang Å, Hedblom M. 2018. Wellbeing in Urban Greenery: The Role of Naturalness and Place Identity. Frontiers in Psychology.

Nielsen AB, Hedblom M, Stahl Olafsson A, Wiström B. 2017. Spatial configurations of urban forest in  different landscape and socio-political contexts: identifying patterns for green infrastructure planning. Urban Ecosystems. DOI: 10.1007/s11252-016-0600-y

Nordström E-M, Dolling A, Skärbäck E, Stoltz J, Annerstedt van den Bosch M, Grahn P, Lundell Y. 2015. Forests for wood production and stress recovery - trade-offs in long-term forest management planning. European Journal of Forest Research 134:755-767. 10.1007/s10342-015-0887-x 

Ode Sang Å, Sang N, Hedblom M, Sevelin G, Knez I, B. Gunnarsson. 2020. Are path choices of people moving through urban green spaces explained by gender and age? Implications for planning and management. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening

Pálsdóttir, A. M., Persson, D., Persson, B. & Grahn, P. (2014). The Journey of Recovery and Empowerment Embraced by Nature — Clients’ Perspectives on Nature-Based Rehabilitation in Relation to the Role of the Natural Environment. Special issue: Health benefits of nature, International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 11(7):7094-7115. 

Pálsdóttir, A.M. (2017). Det skånska landskapets betydelse för folkhälsan. Kapitel. 4.2. i Romeleåsen och Sjölandskapet, en kunskapssammanställning av Per Blomberg; Romeleåsen- och sjölandskapskommittén RÅSK 2017.

Pálsdóttir, A.M., Sempik, J., Bird, W., van den Bosch, M. (2018). Using nature as a treatment option. 4.1, pp. 125-131. In: Oxford Textbook of Nature and Public Health. (Eds. van den Bosch, M. & Bird, W.). OUP, UK.

Pálsdóttir, A.M., Shahrad, A., Åström, M. & Ekstam, L. (2018). Nature-based vocational rehabilitation for migrants participating in the national scheme of integration. Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture. Volume XXVIII, Issue II. ISSN 2381-5337.

Pálsdóttir, A.M., Stigsdotter, U., Persson, D., Thorpert, P. & Grahn, P. (2018). The qualities of natural environments that support the rehabilitation process of individuals with stress-related mental disorder in nature-based rehabilitation. Urban Forestry and Urban Greening.

Pálsdóttir, A.M. Stigmar, K., Norrving, B., Petersson, I.F., Åström., M. and Pessah-Rasmussen, H. (2020). The Nature stroke study; NASTRU - A randomised controlled trial of nature-based post-stroke fatigue rehabilitation. Journal of Medicine Rehabilitation. DOI: 10.2340/16501977-2652

Pálsdóttir, A.M., O’Brien, L. & Dolling, A. (2020). Nature based vocational training for nature conservation and human wellbeing in Skåne, Sweden. In Ed Gallis, C. Forest and Human Health I. Chapter 8. Cambridge Scholar Publishing, UK.

Pálsdóttir, A.M., Spendrup, S., Mårtensson, L., and Wendin, K. (2021). Garden smellscape – experiences of plant scents in nature-based intervention. Frontiers in Psychology, doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2021.667957

Pálsdóttir AM, O´Brien L, Varning Poulsen D, Dolling A. 2021. Exploring a migrant´s sense of belonging through participation in an urban agricultural vocational training program in Sweden. Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture 31:11-23.

Sonntag-Öström E, Nordin M, Dolling A, Lundell Y, Nilsson L, Slunga Järvholm L. 2015. Can rehabilitation in boreal forests help recovery from exhaustion disorder? – The randomised clinical trial ForRestScandinavian Journal of Forest Research. 30:8, 732-748. DOI:10.1080/02827581.2015.1046482.

Sonntag-Öström E, Nordin M, Lundell Y, Dolling A, Wiklund U, Karlsson M, Carlberg B, Slunga Järvholm L. 2014. Restorative effects of visits to urban and forest environments in patients with exhaustion disorder. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening. 13: 344-354. 

Sonntag-Öström E, Nordin, M, Slunga Järvholm L, Lundell Y, Brännström R, Dolling A. 2011. Can the boreal forest be used for rehabilitation and recovery from stress-related exhaustion? A pilot study. Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research 26: 245-256. doi: 10.1080/02827581.2011.558521

Sonntag-Öström E, Stenlund T, Nordin M, Lundell Y, Ahlgren C, Fjellman-Wiklund A, Slunga-Järvholm, L, Dolling A. 2015. "Nature's effect on my mind." - Patients' qualitative experiences of a forest-based rehabilitation programme. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 14(3): 607-614.  

Sonntag-Öström E. 2014. Forest for Rest. Recovery from exhaustion disorder. Umeå University Medical Dissertations, New Series No 1667. (Institutionen för Folkhälsa och Klinisk Medicin, enheten för yrkes- och miljömedicin, Umeå Universitet) ISBN 978-91-7601-083-9, ISSN 0346-6612.

Stoltz J, Lundell Y, Skärbäck E, Annerstedt van den Bosch, M, Grahn P, Nordström E-M, Dolling A. 2016. Planning for restorative forests: describing stress-reducing qualities of forest stands using available forest stand data. European Journal of Forest Research 135:803–813. DOI:10.1007/s10342-016-0974-7

Sveinsdottir, A., Palsdottir, A.M. & Stabbetorp, O. (2008). Effects of afforestation on landscape and public health. In: Halldorsson, G., Oddsdottir, E.S. & Sigurdsson, B.D. (Eds.), AFFORDNOD Effects of afforestation on ecosystems, landscape and rural devlopment. TemaNord 2008:562. 


Ann DollingAnn Dolling is Senior Lecturer in forest ecology and management at SLU. She works interdisciplinary on the topic forest and health and explores how people's health is affected by staying in a forest environment, and how this knowledge can be used in various activities such as nature and health companies, lifestyle changes and forest management.

 Marcus HedblomMarcus Hedblom is Professor in sustainable landscape management at SLU. He has been working interdisciplinary for several years studying the well-being of people through biodiversity, birdsong and natural smells. Above all, he studies urban forests. In his lab at Karolinska Institutet, his research group has found that it is natural smells that reduce stress more than sight and hearing.

Anna Maria PalsdottirAnna María Pálsdóttir is associate professor in the environmental psychology of landscape architecture and university lecturer in nature-based interventions. She works with concept development and interdisciplinary evaluations of nature-based interventions, which are conducted in different types of nature and outdoor environments, for different users/target groups. She investigates how best to create sustainable and health-promoting living environments outdoors. In recent years, Anna María has investigated how work in nature conservation at the nature reserves in Skåne can affect workers' perceived health and well-being.

Eva-Maria NordströmEva-Maria Nordström is associate professor in forest management and university lecturer in forest planning at SLU. She works with issues related to sustainable forestry and the use of forest ecosystem services, for example for recreation and rehabilitation. The research, which is often interdisciplinary, is based on future scenarios that describe the forest development under different conditions and can be used as a basis for discussions with decision-makers and various stakeholders.

Elisabet Bohlin

Elisabet Bohlin is a researcher and PhD in Forest Vegetation Ecology and works at the Department of Forest Ecology and Management, SLU. She works with teaching and with Nordic Nature Health Hub - a Nordic virtual platform and meeting place for nature entrepreneurs, researchers, authorities and anyone interested in the effect of animals and nature on human health. The platform contains, among other things, verified knowledge about the health effects of nature, tools for nature entrepreneurs, the nature health map, information on education in animals, nature and health as well as links to research, center formations etc. in the area.



Ann Dolling, Researcher
Department of Forest Ecology and Management, Department of Forest Ecology and Management, joint staff, +46706997452