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Britain's woodlands were planted for timber or hunting but nowadays you're as likely to find ex-prisoners or mentally ill elderly folk in the woods. With the rise of "social forestry", woodlands have come to be seen as therapeutic and healing, and not just by new age eco types. In Japan, doctors take seriously the practice of "forest air bathing", and claim all kinds of health benefits from simply being in the woods. Ian Marchant explores whether trees really do have miraculous powers and asks what happened to the idea of forests as scary places, full of evil spirits and outlaws.