Tiny Forest at West Berkshire Community Hospital a first for the NHS
Patients and staff at a Newbury hospital now have a new place to enjoy some fresh air in a first of its kind project for the NHS.
A total of 480 saplings were planted in a ‘Tiny Forest’ at West Berkshire Community Hospital recently, with the support of the NHS Forest Programme and the Queen’s Green Canopy and in partnership with environmental charity, Earthwatch Europe.
A Tiny Forest is a densely planted, native forest that offers local communities access to green space where only a small area of land – about the size of a tennis court at the hospital - is available.
It is up to 30 times denser than conventional tree planting and has a number of key environmental benefits, including the absorption of up to 600kg of carbon per year, flood risk mitigation and noise reduction.
The trees, which included a range of native species such as oak, beech, hornbeam, silver birch, hazel, holly and cherry, were planted in a way that will stimulate rapid growth without the need for chemicals or fertilisers and it will become maintenance-free after two years.
As well as providing a range of health and wellbeing benefits to patients and staff at the hospital, the project will become part of Earthwatch’s scientific research into the benefits of nature-based solutions.
Paul Harrison, sustainability manager at Berkshire Healthcare, said: “The planting of this Tiny Forest offers many benefits to patients and their visitors, as well as staff, and demonstrates the organisation’s commitment to protecting the environment, embracing sustainable healthcare and combating climate change.”
David Townsend, chief operating officer at Berkshire Healthcare, added: “This is a fantastic project, and one which Berkshire Healthcare is incredibly proud to be a part of, especially being the first NHS site to undergo such a project.
“It will be exciting to see it grow and, eventually, for our staff and patients to benefit from having a natural green space within the hospital grounds.”
Earthwatch Europe’s Tiny Forest programme manager, Louise Hartley, said: “West Berkshire Community Hospital’s Tiny Forest will give this community an amazing opportunity to access the incredible wellbeing benefits of nature on their doorstep when they need it most. It will also play a vital part in our scientific research into how we can mitigate the effects of climate change.”
Anyone who is interested in becoming a member of the Keeper Team who will look after the Tiny Forest as it grows can contact Mr Harrison at firstname.lastname@example.org.