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Larbert Woods – therapeutic greenspace

A case study from Greenspace Scotland highlights Larbert Woods - a high-profile Green Exercise Partnership Demonstration Project, showing how NHS greenspace can be designed, improved and managed for multiple health & wellbeing benefits.

The partnership project aimed to transform and revitalise the woodland and greenspace resource surrounding Forth Valley Royal Hospital, bringing it back into sustainable management and safeguarding the designed landscape. 

The project has encouraged staff, patients, visitors and the local community to make greater use of the woodland and greenspace resource adjacent to the Hospital for health improvement, therapeutic activity, physical activity and relaxation.

A network of distance/walking time trails, accessible paths, and outdoor teaching spaces have been established, and woodland management works, including tree felling, tree planting and water quality improvement, have brought environmental benefits. Forestry Commission Scotland now manage the site on behalf of NHS on an on-going basis.

Feedback on the project identified that the site provided relaxation, recreation, mental health benefits and conservation of local greenspace. The Ranger – a UK first of a post co-funded by NHS and Forestry Commission Scotland – provided liaison with 26 local community groups who reported benefit from use of the site, and local schools regularly use the greenspace for outdoor learning as part of the Curriculum for Excellence.

The project has provided a calming environment to escape to, from the often stressful experience of being a visitor or patient at the hospital. It was also the setting for the first outdoor, woodland based rehabilitation programme for cardiac patients in hospital grounds. Branching Out – a series of therapeutic woodland activities for people experiencing mental health issues, including bush craft skills and tai chi – was also successful.

15 November 2016

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