In Taiwan’s forest environment, the type closest to people’s living area is the protection forest, which mainly has the aims of regulating, supplying, and supporting, in those of the ecosystem services (ES). In recent years, due to the people’s demand for being close to nature and relieving stress, protection forests have become venues for people’s sports and leisure activities. The purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship between public perceptions of the value of ES and mental health benefits, so as to adjust the Taiwan’s management policy towards its protection forests. Our research site is the Zhunan Protection Forest on the western coast of Taiwan. In total, 355 questionnaires were issued, and 301 of those were deemed valid. The results showed that (1) people have a high perception of the ES, in which supporting and regulation values were higher than cultural and provisioning values. Education could enhance the perception of ES. (2) For the people who have exercise habits and live near protection forests, their “compatibility” of PRS was higher than for other people. (3) People who live around protection forest areas had a higher positive mood and lower negative mood, which could have healthier mental effects. (4) People’s perceptions of ES were related to PRS dimensions. The higher ES values people were also more likely to participate in exercise in the forest, achieving good mental health. The results are discussed with relevant literature and provide suggestions for follow-up research for revising forest protection management policies.
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