Hospital’s woodlands set for makeover

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14 JUNE 2011NEWS RELEASE No: 14707

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The community woodlands surrounding NHS Forth Valley Royal Hospital in Larbert are set for a makeover thanks to a £101,000 cash boost announced today.

The funding, from Forestry Commission Scotland, will go towards an on-going project to transform the hospital’s woodlands in to a “green oasis” for patients, staff, visitors and the community.

New planting, the creation and upgrading of new paths and cycle tracks are all planned for the woodland.

The cash boost was part of an announcement of 30 projects across Scotland which have received funding and was made by Environment & Climate Change Minister Stewart Stevenson. 

Mr Stevenson said:

“Boosting green networks can make a significant contribution to a whole range of Scottish Government objectives including health improvement, biodiversity, climate change, regeneration, children’s development and economic recovery.

“The funding will help make a positive and tangible difference to the lives of many people.”

The woodlands to receive a makeover are immediately opposite the new hospital. Forestry Commission Scotland and NHS Forth Valley have joined forces with Central Scotland Forest Trust and Falkirk Council to transform the woodlands for the benefit of people.

Work has already begun to clear up much of the vegetation around the loch which was largely hidden by rhododendrons.  With better access to paths, patients and the community will be encouraged to use the woodlands more for recreation and relaxation.

Tom Steele, NHS Forth Valley Director of Strategic Projects and Property.

"This is wonderful news which will build on the work already underway to breathe new life into the green space and woodland surrounding Forth Valley Royal Hospital.

“Research shows that even five minutes of ‘green exercise’ can have a positive impact on mental health and this initiative will make it easier for staff, patients and visitors to get out and enjoy the open space around them."

As part of the project, Forestry Commission Scotland has based Gordon Harper, a full time forest ranger, within the hospital to help drive forward new improvements in the woodland. 

Mr Harper added:

“Woodlands are great places to de-stress and simply get away from it all. If we give the woodland a makeover and improve access it will be more inviting and more people will use it.

“This is great news for patients needing gentle exercise or for anyone else wanting to just get a bit more active. We’ve lots planned for the woodland and we want to local community to get more involved.”

The funding came from Forestry Commission Scotland’s Woods In and Around Towns (WIAT) challenge fund which gives financial support to woodland owners to improve their woods for the benefit of communities.

Notes to news editors

1.  Forestry Commission Scotland works as the Scottish Government’s forestry directorate

2.    The funding to physically revitalise woodlands across Scotland is primarily from the WIAT (Woods In and Around Towns) Challenge fund, to which applicants submit bids to Forestry Commission Scotland.  The fund comes under the Scotland Rural Development Programme which provides a framework to deliver European and Scottish Government funding for social, economic and environmental benefits.

3. Media enquiries:
Forestry Commission Scotland: Steve Williams 0131 314 6508
NHS Forth Valley: Kate Fawcett 01786 457236