Health project ‘Branching Out’ uses the great outdoors as a medicine

photo of group
Group photo taken on the final day of the project showing some of the participants along with staff from Highland Council countryside rangers who led the project, the NHS and Dunnet Forestry Trust.

A ‘green space on referral’ project has been offered to patients in the far north to improve their health this winter.

A hardy group of NHS staff and eight patients visited Dunnet forest one day a week for ten weeks starting in January. The group took part in conservation tasks and learned both greenwood and outdoor cooking skills.

The ethos behind the Branching Out project is rooted in medical research showing that one of the most effective treatments of mental health problems is supported activity outdoors. Branching Out is delivered throughout Scotland, under the guidance of Forestry Commission in partnerships with various NHS trusts.

The Caithness project was led by Kirsty Rosie and Paul Castle, of The Highland Council Countryside Rangers. It was part funded by Forestry Commission Scotland and supported in kind by Highland Council, NHS Highland and Dunnet Forestry Trust.

The project came to an end this week, which was marked by an award ceremony and BBQ.

Ranger Kirsty Rosie said: “The project was very successful, so much so that the group is eagerly seeking funding support to run it again.”

24 Mar 2016