Forests and Human Health June-25-2014

Editor's words

Collaboration between researchers in universities and research institutes has always been found to be highly important in order to broaden our knowledge and enhance multi-disciplinary scientific work. Finland will try to achieve increased collaboration between researchers in the area of natural resources by merging the Finnish Forest Research Institute (Metla), MTT Agrifood Research Finland, the Finnish Game and Fisheries Research Institute (RKTL) and the statistical services of the Information Centre of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (Tike) under a new entity called the Natural Resources Institute Finland. This will happen at the beginning of 2015. In this newsletter we introduce research activities into bioactive compounds and intensifying wild berry production in MTT Agrifood Research Finland. It is promising that new collaborative projects in the area of the health-promoting effects of forests and non-wood forest products will be achievable.

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Organisation

International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine

The International Society of Nature and Forest Medicine (INFOM) was founded on January 1st 2011, after a year of preparation. INFOM has been a strong supporter of the progress and development of research involving Nature and Forest Medicine, a new field that has advanced in recent years with the development of medical equipment related to natural and life sciences. INFOM works for the advancement of nature medicine as well as contributing to health, welfare and integrated medical care. The purpose of the society is to generate global influence through international cooperation.

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Current research

Intensifying wild berry production in Finnish boreal forests

The forest may at first seem to be quite an unexpected research field for scientists working in MTT Agrifood Finland, although it is administrated by the same Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry as the Finnish Forest Research Institute. Traditionally, Finnish forests have produced raw material for the pulp, paper and sawmill industries, whereas raw materials for the food industry have been produced by agriculture. However, forests produce many NWFPs (Non-Wood Forest Products), which are utilized by the food, pharmaceutical and wellbeing industries. Forest berries are the flagship of these NWFPs in Finland.

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Research on bioactive compounds at MTT Agrifood Research Finland

The Biomolecules team of MTT’s Biotechnology and Food Research unit produces valued research on the occurrence of food biomolecules and their health effects. We focus on the development of new, innovative, health promoting and sustainable food solutions with an emphasis on the identification and exploitation of bioactive molecules delivering potential health-promoting effects. Current areas of specialization are e.g. polyphenols and other secondary metabolites, proteins, bioactive peptides, vitamins and fibre. For example, fruits, berries, mushrooms, vegetables as well as the utilization of food processing side streams are studied.

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Increasing evidence of beneficial effects of nature on health

Stress is a growing problem in urbanized societies and modern living environments. At the same time, the potential for green areas to provide relief from stress and to improve living environments and quality of life has been more widely recognized. However, this knowledge is not yet properly integrated into land use policy and urban planning or in health care services. A joint Finnish-Japanese research project 'Stress-reducing quality of urban green areas' funded by the Academy of Finland and the Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science has produced knowledge about the qualities of green areas that generate stress-reducing outcomes in urban dwelling. This research has expanded further within “Green infrastructures for health in the future living environments” (GreenHealth) also funded by the Academy of Finland. The implementation of joint research results has been discussed together with practitioners and other stakeholders in national seminars. 

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Forthcoming events >

Selected Publications >

This is the newsletter of the Forests and Human Health task force of IUFRO (The International Union of Forest Research Organizations). It is distributed electronically to members of the task force and all others interested.

You can subscribe it for free or un-subscribe by sending a message to info@metla.fi. Task force members can submit news or feature articles to the newsletter. The editors reserve the customary right to editorial decisions concerning submissions.

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Comments: Lu-Min Vaario, firstname.lastname@metla.fi