£600,000 for green health in Dundee, North Ayrshire and Highland

08 March 2022

Funding of £600,000 has been announced to support the roll out of green health projects across Scotland.

NatureScot, Transport Scotland and the Scottish Government’s Active Scotland Division will provide a further two years of funding to three pilot Green Health Partnerships (GHPs) in Dundee, North Ayrshire and Highland.

The announcement was made by Public Health Minister Maree Todd at an event organised by the Highland Green Health Partnership at Evanton Woods near Dingwall to mark Social Prescribing Week.

Research shows that physical activity and contact with nature can greatly benefit physical and mental health.

Led by local health boards and councils, the partnerships are working to integrate green health solutions into the healthcare system. This includes developing green prescriptions for health walks groups, community gardening projects, and conservation and trail therapy sessions.

The partnerships are also working to gather and publish better information about local green spaces and green health projects, as well as training staff to raise awareness of the value of green health across health and social care sectors.

Speaking during the event hosted by Evanton Wood Community Company, which runs a range of green health projects including for people with dementia, Ms Todd said: “In Scotland, we’re fortunate to have a unique natural environment which can play a part in improving the health of everyone in the country. It is important that we continue to encourage and support people to use this amazing resource to be more active and spend more time outdoors in green spaces.

“I’m delighted to announce the £600,000 investment in Green Health Partnerships to enable health and social care professionals to connect people to nature which can help to address some of the underlying causes of ill-health and tackle health inequalities.

“Through the Green Health Partnership programme, NatureScot has helped communities develop valuable links between healthcare practitioners and local nature-based activities which have improved the physical, mental and social health of the people in these communities.”

Francesca Osowska, NatureScot Chief Executive, said: “There is now compelling evidence showing that contact with nature can make a real contribution to physical and mental health. The case for action to boost active travel and connection with nature is only strengthened as we work to tackle the linked challenges of biodiversity loss and the climate emergency.

“Green Health Partnerships are pioneering work in this area and achieving significant results already, with more than 350 green health opportunities set up or promoted so far and an estimated 11,200 people in the health and environment sector involved. We look forward to seeing them go from strength to strength and becoming an integral part of Scotland’s health service.”

Ailsa Villegas, NHS Highland’s Senior Development Officer for Green Health, said: “It was wonderful to welcome the minister to Evanton Woods.

“It is vitally important that we continue to raise awareness of the benefits of nature in helping us with our mental health and wellbeing. The commitment of Green Health Funding from the Scottish Government ensures that we can continue to develop the work we are doing in Highland to support patients to manage their mental health and wellbeing.”