Lismore Botanic Gardens's nature walk to nurture minds
VOLUNTEERS at the Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens are working on a walking trail to improve mental health.
The hoop pine forest, located near the entry to the gardens at the Lismore Recycling and Recovery Centre, will be home to a gentle, zigzagging path up to the peek, and include lookouts, seating and presentation spots for group tours along the way.
Friends of Lismore Rainforest Botanic Gardens president Marie Matthews said she "dreams about the path" and its potential for the community.
"I see it as being a feature not just for a few people ... but for anyone who comes to Lismore," she said.
Ms Matthews said the idea for a walk to improve mental health sprung from a newspaper article.
"It was an extract from a report ... on nature and mental health and I thought this would really fit into that," she said.
Garden volunteers have worked out costings to get the basic walk up and running, but Ms Matthews has some ambitious plans in mind down the track.
"I have four upright posts, giving a suggestion of a cathedral window, and then in the main section I'd have this brightly-coloured image in glass," she said.
"So in winter when the sun rises, it would shine right through and create a magnificent light display."
The coordinator of the Mental Health Support Group charity, Barbara Swain, said the walk would benefit children, teenagers and adults battling mental health issues.
"Gardening can be so therapeutic," she said. "It helps with stress relief, improves mood, can stimulate mental alertness and reduce tiredness and stimulate interest in surroundings."
Lismore Adult Mental Health Unit occupational therapist Angie D'Elboux said she hoped the unit would be involved in the walk's development.
"I'm hoping to bring patients from the unit to work on-site, share their skills and learn skills along the way," she said. "One of my roles is to teach people stress and anxiety management, so what better place to do so than somewhere as calm as this."