The NHS Forest isn’t just about expanding and enhancing green spaces on healthcare sites – it is also, crucially, about increasing engagement with those spaces by staff, patients and the wider community. One way that our sites have done this is by hosting Nature Recovery Rangers – full-time staff members who work alongside sustainability, engagement, estates and healthcare teams to realise the full potential of on-site green space. This initiative began with three Nature Recovery Rangers in spring 2021, and its success has seen this project expand to more trusts across England.

Nature Recovery Ranger at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre
Nature Recovery Ranger at Mount Vernon Cancer Centre. Photo: Karen MacKelvie / Centre for Sustainable Healthcare 2021. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).
Ranger Fiona Megarrell leads staff to create a new allotment in Liverpool
Ranger Fiona Megarrell leads staff to create a new allotment in Liverpool. Photo: Centre for Sustainable Healthcare 2021. Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0).

How do rangers promote engagement with nature?

Our rangers have developed close relationships with staff at the trust, pooled their horticultural knowledge and got creative to come up with innovative ways to get people involved with nature. Importantly, a Nature Recovery Ranger is a very site-specific role, and no two rangers will have the same job. Our ranger at Southmead Hospital in north Bristol, for example, is working on a vast, modern site with 19 acres of green space already built in. In contrast, Mount Vernon Cancer Centre in northwest London dates back to the early 1900s, and our ranger there has worked hard to locate and identify the potential for green spaces tucked away in hidden corners of this former TB sanatorium.

Successful ranger projects so far have included:

How to work with an on-site ranger

As this project expands, we have been in discussion with several trusts about employing rangers to work on their healthcare sites. There are different options for hiring, managing and funding these roles, if you would like to discuss this with us please contact us at info@nhsforest.org

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