The NHS Forest 2023-2024 tree planting season has been a success with a total of 27,261 trees planted across more than 100 NHS sites. We requested feedback from these sites to understand their experience. This blog delves into the feedback provided by participants and highlights motivations, satisfaction levels, challenges and impact. A big thank you to participants of this survey. Your feedback will help us improve our scheme next season! 

Participation and Tree Planting Numbers  

The survey data reveals a wide range of tree planting numbers among the 19 respondents. Some planted as few as 30 trees while others planted up to 1,450 trees. This variation underscores different sites’ diverse capacities and resources, from clustered planting around car parks to larger institutional grounds.  

Where are the trees planted?  

31 percent of applicants planted their trees on land adjacent to onsite roads, paths or car parks and 17 percent were planted adjacent to building structures. This points to the fact that a lot of NHS sites are short on green space.  

Which of the following best summarises the land where the trees have been planted?
31% - Adjacent to onsite roads, paths or car parks
17% - Adjacent to hospital buildings or structures
17% - Hospital gardens or similar outdoor amenity spaces
4% - Conservation areas, such as nature reserves or green buffers
13% - Expanding areas of existing woodland/tree cover on site
6% - Outdoor recreational areas or sports fields
4% - Areas of new development
4% - Other

Motivations for Tree Planting

Understanding the motivations behind tree planting helps us to appreciate the broad environmental and social benefits that lead to applicants working with us. The survey identified several key motivations, often overlapping. The top five most important in order of importance were:

  1. Providing habitat for wildlife/biodiversity: By planting trees participants aimed to create habitats for various species, supporting local wildlife and contributing to ecological diversity.
  2. Creating landscaping features/zoned areas: Many participants sought to enhance the aesthetic and functional aspects of their spaces. By planting trees, they aimed to create distinct zones, perhaps to create privacy for staff and patients whilst also improving the visual appeal of the site.
  3. To improve the environmental image of the site: improving the visual image of the site and improving environmental credentials through tree planting.
  4. To connect staff to nature through tree planting: We loved hearing that most people who helped to plant the trees were staff and the average amount of people sites had help with the planting was 15! One of the participants commented that the tree planting had ‘encouraged a lot of staff to be more environmentally aware’.
  5. To enhance ecosystem services: These are benefits provided by trees and include production of oxygen, nutrient cycling, purification of water and air, carbon sequestration and flood protection. One participant shared how the newly planted trees will improve air quality and create a peaceful environment for both staff and visitors. 

Satisfaction with Tree Quality

The survey results indicate a high level of satisfaction with the trees provided by the NHS Forest. 94% of respondents reported being “very satisfied” with the quality of trees, which speaks to the success of the initiative in providing suitable and healthy saplings for planting.

Key Feedback:

A couple of participants claimed that planting trees has lead to patients and staff paying more attention to plants in the hospital area. As a result, new pots with plants were created and new plants were planted elsewhere in the hospital. There is a visible green change. Planting trees was a great communications piece for another site and they used Twitter/X to promote what they were doing and as a result promoted green spaces and outdoor spaces.

Challenges and Areas for Improvement

Despite the overall success, participants did report some challenges and areas for improvement:

  1. Logistical Issues: Some participants found it difficult to submit the photographs, maps and GPS coordinates required and felt rushed in deciding the planting location as a result. This is worth noting for future applicants – please start thinking about your planting goals sooner rather than later. We will need these final locations before confirming the delivery date. If you are coming across issues the NHS Forest team are available for calls to learn more about your site. 
  2. Follow-Up Support: While initial support was highly praised, a few participants expressed the need for more follow-up support to address post-planting issues, such as pest control and tree maintenance. Another participant was surprised by the costs of tree maintenance.
  3. Awareness and Participation: Increasing awareness and participation in the programme was identified as a potential area for growth. Enhancing outreach efforts could engage more communities and institutions in future planting seasons.

Feedback on Tree Planting Process

Positive Feedback:

Areas for Improvement:

Case Studies and Success Stories

The NHS Forest has not only planted trees but also sown the seeds of inspiration across various sites. Participants have shared numerous success stories demonstrating the transformative impact of tree planting. There are many examples with one participant sharing how tree planting at their site has enhanced the landscape and provided therapeutic benefits to patients and staff. The green spaces have now become a place of respite and recovery illustrating the multifaceted benefits of the NHS Forest.


The 2023-2024 tree planting season with the NHS Forest has been marked by enthusiastic participation and a high satisfaction level. While there are areas for improvement, the overall feedback is overwhelmingly positive and highlights the importance of continued support and expansion of such initiatives. We are glad to hear that 83% of participants are planning to or considering planting more trees with us again next season.

This winter we are adding a wider range of trees to our bundles as well as promoting our larger woodland creation offer. We also have six fully funded Tiny Forests available this season plus over 1000 fruit trees available for NHS orchard creation! We will also be revising our guidance to make sure we are giving sites as much support as we possibly can.

Register now for fully funded trees on your healthcare site.

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