History of the NHS Forest
The NHS Forest, now a flagship project of our Green Space for Health programme, was launched by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in 2009. Since then, around 250 healthcare centres have become NHS Forest sites and have planted almost 80,000 trees on and around NHS land across the UK.
The NHS Forest has expanded to include all kinds of green spaces, from sensory gardens to green walkways and thriving meadows, for the benefit of staff, patients and biodiversity. Our annual NHS Forest conference and awards scheme, which began in 2011, brings together members of our growing network to share ideas, challenges, and inspiration.
Follow our progress over the years on our timeline.
NHS Forest pilot is launched, with funding from the Forestry Commission and Natural England. The project was started by the ‘Campaign for Greener Healthcare’, which later became the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare.
Already making waves! The NHS Forest is praised in a new public health white paper ‘Healthy lives, healthy people: our strategy for public health in England’ published by the Department of Health on 30 November
In April, Alan Titchmarsh plants trees for the NHS Forest in London, close to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital.
We hold our first NHS Forest conference and awards in November.
Cornwall’s NHS Forest initiative is Highly Commended at the Health Service Journal Awards on 15 November.
Countess of Chester Country Park, adjacent to the Countess of Chester Hospital, plants 2,546 trees, with support from the local community and NHS Western Cheshire.
NHS Forest’s National Tree Sponsorship Scheme is launched on 24 January at London Carbon Reduction Network meeting, meaning that anyone can sponsor a tree to support the NHS.
We publish a Greenspace Design for Health and Wellbeing practice guide in collaboration with the Forestry Commission.
Essex’s Broomfield Hospital wins a Green Community Award for the innovative work they have done at their NHS Forest site
By the end of the 2011-12 tree planting season, over 90 NHS Forest sites have joined the network, planting a total of 16,634 trees.
David Bellamy opens the new NHS Forest Golden Jubilee Orchard on 24 May at Canterbury Christ Church University. The orchard celebrates the university’s first 50 years of service.
The NHS Forest begins its longstanding partnership with The Great Outdoor Gym Company, which sponsors a tree for each piece of outdoor gym equipment sold.
Four years after the launch of the NHS Forest, we register our 100th NHS Forest site.
Guild Lodge in Preston launches its Grow your Own project, supplying organic produce to 131 service users and supporting mental health recovery.
Branching out! The first of our Green Health Walks is initiated on 13 May at Frithwood Surgery in Gloucestershire.
Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford is Highly Commended at the HSJ Awards for their ‘Natural Health Service: managing an estate and natural woodlands to provide an enhanced environment to provide patient care’.
By the end of the 2013-14 tree planting season, we reach a total of 36,000 trees! It’s not all about big sites though; the South Central Ambulance Service manages to plant 15 trees across eight of its sites.
The NHS Forest is shortlisted for an Health Service Journal Award in the ‘Improving Environmental and Social Sustainability’ category.
Birmingham’s Royal Orthopaedic Hospital wins an International Green Apple Award for its NHS Forest project.
In January we join the Landscapes for Everyone campaign, as part of a coalition of 33 organisations working to protect Britain’s natural landscapes.
We facilitate the creation of a new Green Health Route and map in Marston, Oxford, with support from the Big Lottery Fund.
University Hospital Birmingham wins awards at Britain in Bloom for its ‘Health for Life’ initiative.
We now have a total of 38,000 trees, across 150 NHS Forest sites.
In autumn we create pollinator-friendly green spaces at three healthcare sites in Oxfordshire as part of our new Bee Healthy initiative.
In Wales, the NHS Forest partners with Magnificent Meadows and Plantlife to create mini meadows and ‘meadow health routes’ with funding from the Welsh Government.
We grow to a total of 190 NHS Forest sites, with 58,000 trees.
In February we run our first in-person Green Space and Health training day, held in Oxford. Our first online training day follows in July.
On 20 May we publish our new guide to Green Walking in Mental Health Recovery.
Green search engine Ecosia partners with Trees for Cities and the NHS Forest as part of their #GrowYourLove campaign. They donate revenue from online searches to fund trees.
We publish the results of our year-long study, Space to Breathe, in October. The report demonstrates the benefits of green spaces at hospital sites in supporting staff wellbeing.
We publish the Bee Healthy Project Guide, with practical information on creating bee-friendly borders in public spaces.
Funding from the government’s Green Recovery Challenge Fund enables us to relaunch our network of over 200 NHS Forest sites, embed three Nature Recovery Rangers in hospitals and offer outdoor wellbeing sessions to healthcare staff.
The number of NHS Forest sites is over 200, and we are joined by our first site in Northern Ireland – meaning we now span the whole of the UK.
The NHS Forest website is relaunched in March, showcasing 246 NHS Forest sites with short films, case studies and interviews. Our searchable Evidence database pulls together the latest evidence, research, policy and guidance on the links between green space and health.
We are awarded a grant from the government’s Trees Call to Action fund, which will enable the planting of 21,000 trees on healthcare sites in England over the next three years.
Five Nature Recovery Rangers are now working at healthcare sites in Liverpool, Newcastle, East London, Northwest London and Bristol, as this innovative programme continues to expand.