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Why forests can make the best classrooms

Natural environments improve the health and well-being of children. Networking, business skills and competence in concept creation are needed to facilitate new and exportable service concepts.


Lea Konttinen

Senior Lead, Reforming the decision-making process


Well-being from Nature for Children and Young People, a report on nature-based concepts, was published at a local development event in Hämeenlinna on 25 October 2012. The report was prepared by Sitra, Innoma and the National Well-being Network.

Sitra promotes sustainable well-being and new service concepts based on the beneficial effects of nature.

“There is room for improvement in the use of the health and well-being effects of nature to promote and maintain long-term well-being in health care and the service business,” says Lea Konttinen, Senior Lead, Well-being, Sitra.

Research shows that spending time in nature helps people calm down and recover from stress. It also improves their mood and concentration. In addition, exercise of equal intensity feels easier outdoors than it does indoors, and it invigorates the senses.

The foundation for well-being is laid in childhood. For example, forest pre-schools have been shown to improve the physical condition of children as well as their initiative, imagination and perception. Their orientation, collaboration and social skills have also improved.

The report presents existing nature-based concepts for children and young people. It also explains how natural elements could be used better in educational and recreational services, and how the creation of new service concepts should be approached. Well-being can be promoted by attracting people to nature as well as by bringing nature to the built environment.

More information

Lea Konttinen, Senior Lead, Sitra, tel. +358 50 387 3188,, tel. +358 40 5466 428

Publication information

Well-being from Nature for Children and Young People – Descriptions of the Well-being Effects of Nature and Related Services and Service Development Models (PDF available in Finnish), Kirsi Polvinen, Jussi Pihlajamaa and Pekka Berg, ISBN 978-952-6625-23-2, Sitra and the National Well-being Network, 2012

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