The Forest 404 experiment

Alex Smalley is collaborating with the BBC to consider how listening to nature could impact wellbeing. The study is one of the biggest investigations ever conducted into the therapeutic effects of sound and has launched alongside an innovative new BBC Radio 4 podcast called Forest 404.

You can take part in the Forest 404 experiment by following the links from the BBC site. Participants will be asked to listen to several different sounds so will need headphones or speakers at the ready!


Forest 404 is a sci-fi thriller by Timothy X Atack, set in the 24th century following a data crash called The Cataclysm. It follows Pan (Pearl Mackie), a sound archivist who uncovers some sound recordings from the early 21st century that haunt her. They are recordings of rainforests, places which no longer exist, and Pan feels compelled to hunt down the truth about how the forests of the old world died. Each episode of the thriller is accompanied by a factual talk which guides listeners through different themes of the drama and an experimental soundscape.

The experiment will investigate how people from different backgrounds respond to sounds of nature. You can read more about the experiment on the BBC site and Alex has also released a podcast to introduce the work.

Alex is a PhD student funded by the Wellcome Trust based at ECEHH, you can find out more about his PhD at Virtual Nature. The Forest 404 Experiment is a research partnership between BBC Radio 4, the BBC Natural History Unit, the University of Bristol, the Open University and the University of Exeter.

One comment

  1. Derek Clements-croome · · Reply

    Excellent work. The connection with Nature when working as well as in leisure time is vital to offset the brutalities of city life.

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