NHSForest Pilot Phase Evaluation Report


April 2009- December 2009


  1. Brief Overview of the NHSForest
  2. Key Features of the NHSForest
  3. Positive and Challenging Aspects of the NHS Forest project
  4. Overall Project Statistics
  5. The main phaseCoordination
  1. Brief Overview of the NHSForest

The conception of the NHS Forest was at a meeting held in December 2008 and had developed from a number of leading NHS professionals, such as Sir Muir Gray and William Bird who felt that many NHS Estates would benefit from greening their sites which would in turn help the health of patients and staff that work there.

A pilot phase of the project started in the following January with the NHSForestcoordinator being employed from April 2009 to December 2009 when this stage of the project ends. The aim of the pilot phase was to develop a concept and strategy to allow the project to then be rolled out nationwide (as of January 2010) whilst also exploring the processes involved in tree planting on NHS estates. 10 sites have been brought into the project, many of which were through existing NHS contacts but as the project has taken off and publicity has increased, other sites have learnt about the NHSForest and have been keen to become involved.

The initial scope of the project was simply about greening the NHS Estates and putting trees in the ground with a target of 1 tree for every NHS employee, 1.3 million trees. As the project has evolved it has become apparent that the engagement of people with the trees is crucial and that the long term sustainability of the forest requires the involvement of staff, patients and the local community in its upkeep. In conjunction with this, the use of the forest to help provide health benefits for these three groups of people has evolved as a natural component of the project.

The current aims of the NHSForest are therefore, as follows;

1.Engaging people in and around healthcare organisations with their immediate environment as a way to increase awareness of the wider environment and sustainability.

2.Improving the health of staff, patients and communities through the use of green space.

3.Encouraging greater social cohesion between the NHS Estates and the local community. Improving access to green space on or near to NHS land.

4.Greening the NHS Estates and planting 1 tree per employee, amounting to 1.3 million trees within the next 5 years.

5.Encouraging the NHS to provide environmental benefits through their Estates including reducing the NHS’ carbon footprint through carbon offsetting from the 1.3 million trees planted.

6.Bringing together a range of highly skilled professionals to produce woodland that includes the use of art, food crops and mapping.

2.Key Features of the NHSForest

Included within the letter of agreement and developed as part of the scope of the pilot phase, the Campaign of Greener Healthcare has devised a series of requirements that a Trust has to adhere to in order to become part of the NHSForest. None of these are considered to be too onerous.The NHSForest has become a project with a number of key features but with the detail of what is carried out on site is very much dependent on the resources of the individual Trust.

Listed below is a specification of what should be included on each site in order to be part of the NHSForest.

  1. A map of the location (at a scale of 1:25,000) will be displayed on the NHSForest website
  2. Use of mainly native trees and of good stock
  3. Inclusion of food trees (fruit and nut) where possible
  4. The site must be accessible to either staff, patients or the local community (or all of the above) and include wheelchair access
  5. Involvement of staff, patients and local community in the tree planting and maintenance
  6. Trees should be planted on the NHS Estate or nearby
  7. Signs and routes provided throughout the forest where relevant
  8. Use of the NHSForest logo
  9. The inclusion of art features within the forest where possible

Key Achievements of pilot phase

  1. National Launch of NHS Forest at Alder Hey Children’s Hospital
  2. Engagement of 13 sites in pilot phase of project
  3. Planting of 385 trees so far
  4. Engagement of 8 NHSForest partners and setting up of steering group
  5. Development of Logo
  6. Development and launch of website- including map of sites
  7. Setting up of wood fuel and food working groups
  8. Production of guidance pack
  9. Letter of agreement sent to all Trusts keen to sign up to the project
  10. Getting through stage 1 of the Access to Nature Lottery Application
  11. Signing up of 9 sites to the project so far with 11 expressions of interest
  12. Setting up of London regional event to engage partners and sites locally.

3.Positive and Challenging Aspects of the NHSForest project

There has been great enthusiasm forthe project both within the NHS and with forestry and community engagement partners.

A huge amount of work has been carried out ‘in kind’ by NHSForest partners for the pilot phase including:

  • Steering Group meetings and advice
  • Tree proposals,
  • Working with Trusts,
  • Development of mapping tools,
  • Attending NHS Forest events including the launch.

It has begun to develop asan exciting new project providing a new angle in linking health and the environment as well as a useful national focus for much of the existing good work carried out at NHS sites. It has also provided impetus for Trusts to bring variousgroups together for the first time (such as OT’s, art therapists, volunteer gardening groups).

4.Overall Project Statistics

Criteria / Outcome
Number of Trees Planted / 385
Number of fruit Trees Planted / 4
Number of staff engaged / 52 so far
Number of patients engaged / TBC
Number of community members engaged / 60 so far
Staff surveys carried out / 4
Number of sites where art is included with in the NHSForest / 1 so far
Number of partners engaged by sites in project / 21

5. NHSForest: Main phase Coordination

The main phase will be coordinated nationally by the Campaign for Greener Healthcare with the aim being that the majority of Strategic Health Authorities have an NHSForest health leads engaging with individual NHS Trusts in their region. Where this is not possible, CGH will put resources into engaging Trusts and involving partners in this particular area. The guidance pack and the advice from the health leads should provide Trusts with information about forestry and community engagement partners who can provide advice in their particular region. It will be the responsibility of individual Trusts to contact these partners and manage their site finances to run the project with appropriate support from the health lead and CGH where necessary.

Please see below a diagram of how the project is to be run.


Central support from Campaign for Greener Healthcare

FundingDelivery Guidance Pack

Coordination Role

The diagram below demonstrates some of the key tasks that Campaign for Greener Healthcare will be carrying out as part of the main phase of the NHSForest.

The diagram above demonstrates some of the key tasks that CGH will be involved in through coordinating the main phase of the NHSForest. Detailed below are further details as to what is involved.

Website: Regular updating (particularly progress on main phase sites, sending out regular newsletter) and construction of new pages.

Mapping: When funding is available a comprehensive set of detailed maps will be created which will identify NHS sites throughout the UK that are close to areas of green space (such as Forestry Commission woodland, local authority parks and National Trust land). A mapping system will also be implemented on the website whereby the user can identify NHSForest sites nationally, within their local Strategic Health Authority and at a Trust level.

Guidance Pack: The first draft of the document has been constructed with sections of it displayed on the NHSForest website. CGH will review and update the document with latest project and research changes on a bi-annual basis.

Accreditation system: CGH are going to explore such a system to grade sites depending on the amount of community engagement and increase of greenspace that a site has achieved.

Legal: CGH is working with partners to ensure that the legal aspects of the project are covered, this will include updating the letter of agreement and coordinating with individual sites.

Steering Group: CGH coordinates the steering group meetings, held on a bi-annual basis. CGH ensures regular dialogue with the project partners on key issues within the project.

Marketing: CGH will work with the project’s designer to develop a series of marketing literature for individual sites to download from the website and use. This will include templates for posters and leaflets.

Training: In conjunction with the project’s partners, CGH will organise training opportunities in forestry, conservation activities, project management and food crops.

Evaluation: CGH will evaluate the project on an annual basis through discussions with national and regional partners along with regular dialogue with individual sites. This will be publically available and in the form of a report.

Regional Leads: CGH will identify a series of health leads which will work with their strategic health authority to promote the NHSForest to individual Trusts to encourage additional sites to sign up to the project. The health leads will provide advice to the individual Trusts and coordinate the involvement of regional partners to provide forestry and community engagement advice.

Networking events: CGH will attend regular both national and regional networking and training events to promote the NHSForest whilst keeping upto date with latest forestry and community engagement developments and to find out about other similar project.

The following lists demonstrate those sites who have stated that they are interested in being part of the main phase of the NHSForest and those that have expressed an interest in being involved in the project. All sites listed below have been sent a letter of agreement (although none as yet have returned a signed copy to CGH).