Forests also have a high recreational value, which we often do not take into account .
Some forests offer the opportunity to do recreational activities in the middle of nature. / Photo: Pexels
LatinAmerican Post | Jorgue Guasp
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Leer en español: Los mejores planes para cuando visites un bosque
Trees are only the visible part of the forest
As I explained in my article The Forest, much more than Trees , “a forest constitutes, in reality, a set of relationships, not only between trees, soil, air and water, but also between these elements and various forms of life". To these natural elements is added the complementary infrastructure that man develops (viewpoints, benches and tables in parks and camps, trails and paths, etc.), which orients the forests towards a recreational purpose.
Walking under the trees, whether in an urban park or in a natural place, is an activity that is always pleasant; it allows people to escape from the daily routine, and connect with a slice of nature. The sound of the wind through the treetops is gratifying for those who value nature. But some forests also offer specific activities, which increase recreational opportunities in contact with nature:
- Trekking and camping
The canopy of the trees protects hikers and campers from the sun's rays, and also protects them from the rain . Shade is a must in camping, especially in summer, and also on trails used by walkers around the world. In the Argentine Patagonia, for example, the Los Alerces, Nahuel Huapi and Lanín national parks offer a network of trails that run through the Andean Patagonian forest, and which is particularly attractive in autumn, before the first snowfalls, as the foliage of the trees turn from red to ocher, and the days are cool but sunny.
- Mountain biking and skiing
The Catedral ski centers, located at 1030 meters above sea level and near Bariloche, and Chapelco (1200 meters above sea level), located in the mountains that surround San Martín de los Andes, both in Argentine Patagonia, offer a spectacular view of the Cordillera de los Andes, and a forest of huge specimens of lenga. These ski centers are also used in summer, where it is possible to go trekking and mountain biking among the trees, especially in the downhill mode, thanks to the lifts used for skiing.
Mountain biking is also practiced in other forested sites that surround these two Patagonian cities, which constitute the gateway to the Nahuel Huapi and Lanín national parks. Both protected natural areas have a wide network of secondary roads and trails, which can be covered on all-terrain bikes.
- Canopy and urban forests
The Internet page www.barilocheturismo.gob.ar states that “The canopy proposes another way to discover nature, with family or friends: the incredible sensation of flying through the forest, contemplating amazing landscapes that would be impossible to appreciate from the floor". A steel cable, joined between the trees, allows you to move on the "canopy" and contemplate the landscape from the height of the foliage.
“The location of an urban forest has a strong relationship with whoever enjoys it, perseverance and time. Their size influences the types of experience the visitor has: small forests could be used as havens for contemplation and represent an opportunity for children to experience adventure; whereas the larger forests can offer multiple uses and many of them offer experiences of isolation. The vegetation structure may offer a sense of enclosure or protection, however, in the urban setting, an open structure is generally preferred. The presence of water, panoramic views, meadows and other spaces to gather, relax and play sports can help ensure the social success of an urban forest "(Guidelines for urban and peri-urban forestry, FAO, Food Organization of the United Nations and Agriculture, Rome, 2017).
- Bird watching
Although birds represent an ecological value of the forest, their contemplation is in many cases a recreational activity. Some visitors record the species of birds they discover; others, on the other hand, are content to enjoy the beauty and behavior of birds. According to the NGO Aves Argentinas, "birdwatching is an ideal activity to maintain a healthy body, exercise and meet people."
The recreational benefits of the forest are one more reason to conserve them
Forests provide myriad environmental benefits, both for man and wildlife. But they also offer unique recreational opportunities, which are an additional reason to get closer to the trees, and to conserve forest masses, which are extremely important in large cities and in places with scarce or degraded nature.