The NHS Forest’s annual conference was established in autumn 2011 as a space to share ideas, experiences and questions about the links between green space and health. It showcases the potential of the NHS green estate to be used strategically to support health and wellbeing of staff, patients and the wider community.

Keynote speakers have included representatives from organisations that support the NHS Forest, including The Great Outdoor Gym Company, Incredible Edible, RSK, The Wildlife Trusts and The Conservation Volunteers. There are also hospital head gardeners, landscape architects, speakers from Public Health England, researchers, and both clinical and non-clinical NHS staff, from anaesthetists to sustainability managers.

NHS Forest conference 2019 at Alder Hey Children's Hospital
NHS Forest conference 2019 at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. All rights reserved.
NHS Forest conference 2019 - site tour of Alder Hey Children's Hospital
NHS Forest conference 2019 – site tour of Alder Hey Children’s Hospital. All rights reserved.

The event – whether online or in person – typically includes a workshop, where delegates from a range of backgrounds can discuss what the best kind of green space might be for their site, how to engage the local community or healthcare staff with this space, and learn from others who have carried out similar projects. It’s a fantastic way to network, to get ideas on how to fund these initiatives, and on the wide range of partner organisations that can help hospitals realise their green space ambitions.

“The NHS Forest conference was a great chance for us to share and learn about a host of wonderful initiatives linked to the NHS Forest project. I came away inspired by Incredible Edible to ensure some more fruit trees would be planted on our site and by The Great Outdoor Gym Company to try to ensure more exercise facilities are available across the county – next to the trees!”

– Dr Caroline Jessel, Kent and Medway NHS Trust

“The NHS Forest Conference is an amazing opportunity to hear about the brilliant ways in which different healthcare organisations are using their green spaces for the benefits of patients, staff and local communities. There’s so much best practice out there, it’s inspiring to hear direct from project leads and to make connections with other people trying to bring about positive change”

– Ian Stenton, Liverpool University Hospitals

Read more about our NHS Forest conferences:

NHS Forest conference 2023, online: ‘Trees and woodlands on the NHS estate’

NHS Forest conference 2022, online: ‘Biodiversity and Resilience’

NHS Forest conference 2021, online: ‘An equitable recovery for people and nature

NHS Forest conference 2019, Liverpool: ‘Anchor institutions and their role in engaging communities in green space

NHS Forest conference 2018, Bristol: ‘Workplace wellbeing and the role of green space

NHS Forest conference 2015, Birmingham

NHS Forest conference 2014, Whittingham, Lancashire: ‘Creating healing environments

NHS Forest conference 2013, CleanMed, Oxford

NHS Forest conference 2012, Todmorden

NHS Forest conference 2011, Coventry

NHS Forest awards

The NHS Forest awards are presented at the conference. Previous award categories have included ‘Most trees planted for the NHS Forest’, ‘Most innovative NHS Forest site’, ‘Best community engagement in the NHS Forest’ ‘Outstanding contribution to the NHS Forest’ and ‘Most pioneering use of green space by a healthcare professional’. Anyone can nominate an NHS Forest site for an award – it can be your own site, or another one that you are familiar with. Nominations open a few months before the annual conference, and will be announced via our newsletter.

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