big tree with roots
Jessica Rees
Sustainability and Engagement Officer
2 minute read

The Centre for Sustainable Healthcare held an all-day virtual NHS Forest Conference this autumn to explore the benefits of woodlands and green spaces on NHS estates and how they can affect the health and wellbeing of all patients, staff, and the wider communities.

The conference explored three themes; trees in urban areas and their contribution to dispersing air pollution, the planning of tree planting and woodland creation and how we can use a greener estate for health and wellbeing. Speakers from organisations including, the NHS, Forestry Commission, City of Trees, Forest Research, Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and Forest of Hearts presented on the day.

small green sapling in the middle of a hand growing

The clinical value of green spaces

Green spaces and woodlands within an NHS estate can be very beneficial, contributing to a healing and soothing environment; they can also boost biodiversity and improve air quality around healthcare facilities, supporting the NHS in delivering on Net Zero Carbon.

The conference focused on how trees, woodlands and green spaces can improve these healthcare sites. Presenters spoke about how they have utilised green spaces within mental health facilities, for example the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare have created a Green Walking: in Mental Health Recovery Guide with the help of nursing staff and occupational therapists.

Green Walking: in Mental Health Recovery supports healthcare professionals to create walking groups within their mental health wards. This was created due to inpatients having reduced therapeutic activities as well as the surrounding green spaces often being overlooked. Green Walking allows everyone from staff to patients to get out into nature, focusing on their health and wellbeing.

Together to Zero

Green spaces are a vital part of our Green Plans across Trusts in the region; enhancing, improving, and preserving the natural habitats on our sites is one more way we are working to achieve Net Zero Carbon by 2040.