NHS Forest conference 2022: Biodiversity and Resilience
The more biodiverse our ecosystems, the more resilient they tend to be – to climate change, invasive species, habitat loss and other threats. And the more biodiverse our surroundings, the more resilient our own communities can become, too, as these ecosystems can provide fresh, nutritious food; cleaner air and water; and support the pollinators that sustain our crops, gardens and wider natural environments.
While concerns around the climate crisis are widespread, there is now a growing awareness of the importance of biodiversity, and its impacts on human health and wellbeing. Interaction with natural landscapes has always been a vital element of human culture. It can reduce incidence of disease, support mental wellbeing, and help us adapt to stresses and anxiety – an ancient remedy for what we might see as very modern afflictions
So how can healthcare professionals promote biodiversity for the benefit of their patients, colleagues and the wider community? What interventions can be made in healthcare settings to support the natural world, at a time when the NHS is arguably more stretched than ever before? And how can health staff facilitate engagement with these biodiverse spaces, including making them part of their own practice?
The NHS Forest’s free online conference will explore and share green space solutions at both a strategic and practical level. It will provide insights from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare’s Green Space for Health Programme as we reflect on the work of our Nature Recovery Rangers, our tree planting programme, and our new site-specific advice scheme, providing bespoke ecological guidance to NHS sites.
Keynote speakers include Lucy Jones, author of Losing Eden: Why our Minds Need the Wild, described as “a rallying cry for a wilder way of life – for finding asylum in the soil and joy in the trees.” We will also be joined by Dom Higgins, Head of Health and Education at the Wildlife Trusts, who aims to help people across society benefit from, value and appreciate wildlife and a climate-resilient world.
Healthcare staff and conservation partners will share how they have developed the therapeutic potential of their own green space, including a thriving Secret Garden that was recovered from impenetrable brambles; and a new health and wellbeing route that links a hospital to species-rich wildflower meadows. An interactive workshop will allow conference participants to think about how they could explore these ideas on their own sites and in their own practice.
The event will close with the presentation of NHS Forest Awards for sites who have created innovative green spaces and used them in particularly inspiring ways – including supporting biodiversity. Read about last year’s winners here.
- Lucy Jones: Author, Losing Eden: Why our Minds Need the Wild
- Dom Higgins: Head of Health and Education, The Wildlife Trusts
- Warren Percival: Director, RSK
- Ginnie Abubakar: Mount Vernon Cancer Centre
- Cassie Crocker: Plantlife and Magnificent Meadows Wales
- Karen James: Founder of the Secret Garden at Glenfield Hospital, Leicester
- Sister Toni Poole and Steve Lowe: Freeman Hospital’s Green Gym, Newcastle
See a summary of last year’s NHS Forest conference, on the theme of An Equitable Recovery for People and Nature, along with a recording of the event.
The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare’s Green Space for Health Programme is funded by the Trees Call to Action Fund. The fund was developed by Defra in partnership with the Forestry Commission and is being delivered by the Heritage Fund.
Banner image: Rafay Ansari via Unsplash