To coincide with International Day of Forests we are hosting a webinar talk on forests and their connection to human health and wellbeing. Join us to hear from an exciting panel of speakers including Senior Research Fellow and ANFT Certified Forest Therapy Guide, Dr Geoffrey Handsfield; Rongoā Māori Practitioner, Rob McGowan; and Forest & Bird Conservation Manager and Forest correspondent, Dean Baigent-Mercer.
Dr Geoffrey Handsfield
Geoff Handsfield is a scientist and a certified forest therapy guide through the Association of Nature and Forest Therapy. He has decades of outdoor experience and pivoted to forest therapy in 2021 to lead guided walks aimed at slowing down and improving health, well-being, and mood. Geoff received his PhD from the University of Virginia in 2014 in Biomedical Engineering with a focus on biomechanics, and is interested in human physiology and well-being. You can read more about Geoff's work in and out of the forest here.
Dean Baigent-Mercer has often invisibly been involved with the key environmental campaigns within Aotearoa over the past 25 years. Sometimes writer/researcher, sometimes activist, sometimes pest controller or mead maker, he has worked nationally and internationally with Greenpeace and across these islands with Forest & Bird and other NGOs. Currently Dean is Forest & Bird's Northland Conservation Manager. You can read more about Dean's work here.
Rob McGowan, (known as Pa Ropata to many) is a prominent Rongoā Māori practitioner, well respected for his work in the restoration of Rongoā Māori practise and traditional knowledge of native plants and medicines in Aotearoa New Zealand.
Pa’s foundational knowledge of Rongoā Māori comes from Kaumatua on the Whanganui River, and he has spent the last 30-40 years learning and sharing his knowledge about Te Waonui o Tāne. He is the author of “Rongoā Māori - a practical guide to traditional Maori Medicine” 2009, and is the Amo Aratu for Ngā Whenua Rahui (NWR) a ministerial fund established in 1991 to provide funding for the protection of indigenous ecosystems and Māori land. He is one of the original founders of Tane’s Tree Trust, a non-profit dedicated to encouraging land owners to successfully plant and sustainably manage indigenous trees for multiple uses. He holds monthly wananga alongside leading Rongoā practitioner Donna Kerridge through www.titokieducation.co.nz
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