Newly planted NHS Forest tree
Newly planted NHS Forest tree. All rights reserved.

BBC Radio 4 has broadcast a programme on the Healing Power of Trees. The programme, which was aired on 10 December 2012, discusses a case study in Telford run by the Small Woods Association, one of our project partners.

The Small Woods Association social forestry team has been working in partnership with South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Psychological Therapies Team since March 2011. They use the woodland environment to help members of the black and minority ethnic community in Telford, Shropshire to improve their physical and mental wellbeing, and to suppoer them in overcoming feelings of isolation. Participants learn about woodland management and coppicing, among other activities.

At the NHS Forest we are particularly keen to emphasise the healing power of trees and the value green space can have for clinicians at our NHS Forest sites. For example, cardiologists at the North Cotswolds Hospital in Moreton-in-Marsh were involved in designing the green space of the new hospital, with benches placed at appropriate distances for patients to walk when recovering from cardio problems.

Through the creation of green space, the NHS Forest project helps people to stay healthy. A recent Health Protection Agency report emphasises that contact with the natural environment can improve people’s physical and mental wellbeing. The report specifically mentions the NHS Forest, as creating and using urban green spaces can build people’s resilience to protect them from illness. The Government’s 2010 white paper ‘Healthy Lives, Healthy People: Our strategy for public health in England’ backs this up, also citing the NHS Forest as a valuable, community-based public health initiative.

Our NHS Forest site in Falmouth offers a tranquil green space, away from the stress of the hospital, for those visiting loved ones. There are many elderly patients here; a relative whose mother is in the hospital said, “It’s a lovely space, I know she appreciates being taken outside. It perks her up – she’s mum again.”

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