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MapLab: Sounds of Distant Forests

A new mapping project collects and presents forest sounds from around the world.  Courtesy of Wild Rumpus
A new mapping project collects and presents forest sounds from around the world. Courtesy of Wild RumpusPhotographer: Wild Rumpus

This spring, as Covid-19 made social distancing a global norm, the Icelandic Forest Service encouraged its nation to hug trees, not people. Given the many pandemic anxieties aswirl, that made sense: Cozying up to nature has been shown to carry numerous physical and psychological benefits, namely reduced stress. 

Now coronavirus cases are once again accelerating, and as colder temperatures force people indoors this fall, mental health concerns are growing as well. One small consolation: Merely listening to nature noises may be a way to relax. A pandemic-era mapping project offers one helpful resource for that. “Sounds of the Forest” collects crowdsourced audio recordings from woodlands and forests around the planet and stitches them onto a digital world map. Wild Rumpus, a U.K.-based community interest company that organizes large-scale events focused on arts and nature, created the project after cancelling their annual Timber Festival in England’s National Forest due to Covid-19.