Finding well-being in the forest – the new Olari health nature trail is now open

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2019-08-16 13:06

According to research, spending time in nature promotes well-being. In Espoo, this is now even easier than before, thanks to the new health nature trail opened in Olari.

On the health nature trail, visitors can experience the health benefits of nature and take a break from the hustle and bustle of everyday life – right there in the nearby forest, close to urban areas.

The path has eight stops, each of which offers tips on improving your well-being and information about the forest. The stops encourage you to get to know nature through play. A wide variety of users will hopefully enjoy the path.

All the information is in Finnish, Swedish and English.

The importance of nature and working together highlighted in the opening ceremony

The opening of the Olari health nature trail was celebrated with speeches and a singalong. In his opening address, Juha Metso, Director of Social and Health Services at the City of Espoo, underlined the importance of nature and shared activities to well-being. He ceremoniously opened the path by cutting the ribbon with Heikki Lenkkeri, Chair of the local residents’ association Olari-seura.

– One of the primary goals of the Healthy Espoo programme is to support the mental health of Espoo residents. With this health nature trail, we would like to encourage everyone in Espoo to take a break every now and then to get in touch with what is going on in their minds and bodies. Inclusion is an essential component of mental well-being. We hope that the health nature trail will offer various groups and families yet another opportunity to enjoy meaningful activities together, says Happiness Agent Jenni Björksten, explaining the ideas behind the health nature trail.

From the aspen council to the seal islet

The Olari health nature trail meanders through various landscapes in the Kokinmetsä forest. A mixed forest makes way to colossal erratic boulders. After some ancient pines the trail takes the wanderer to the brush. Some picturesque rocks also line the trail.

– The trail has been designed in such a way that you can start from any of the stops and follow the trail in either direction, says Participation Designer Niko Riepponen who led the design of the trail.

Some 2.4 kilometres long and marked with blue hearts, the health nature trail is easy to follow.

One of the purposes of the trail is to familiarise new Espoo residents of immigrant background with the forest. The texts of the stops are available in three languages: Finnish, Swedish and English.

The trail is marked with blue hearts. Four people walking in the forest.

Built together from day one

The initiative to build the nature trail came from the Olari-seura association. Several organisations worked together from day one to create the trail. The stops of the trail were also designed in workshops with different participants.

The goal was to design the trail with as many different user groups in mind as possible. In addition to Olari-seura, the involved parties include the Olari Parish, two scout troops, representatives from day care centres and schools and the mental health association Espoon mielenterveysyhdistys Emy ry.

The nature trail was mostly constructed by volunteers. In the future, it will be maintained by Olari-seura. The Environmental Design Team of the City of Espoo – namely Niko Riepponen, Iira Niemeläinen and Martta Pirttioja – was responsible for the design and execution of the nature trail. The Healthy Espoo development programme funded the health nature trail and participated in its design and implementation.

The health nature trail is located in the Kokinmetsä forest, and it is easily accessible on foot or by bicycle, public transport or car. The main entrance to Kokinmetsä is from a small car park at the intersection of Ylismäentie and Olarinkatu. Kokinmetsä can also be entered from several places in the direction of Puolarmaari and Henttaa. The health nature trail can be followed in both directions, and the stops do not have to be visited in order. The health nature trail is not fully accessible.

More information about The Olari health nature trail and other nature trails in Espoo: Nature trails.

Four people cutting the ribbon

The trail is now officially open! The ribbon was cut by Juha Metso, Director of Social and Health Services, and Heikki Lenkkeri, Chair of Olari-seura. Riikka Puusniekka and Jenni Björksten represent the Healthy Espoo programme.