The direct links between exposure to nature and a range of health benefits inspired RSPB Scotland to create Nature Prescriptions, an initiative which provides an innovative way to support the health of people and nature.

Nature Prescriptions began as a collaboration with NHS Shetland in 2017 and we can now share the results from an Edinburgh pilot that tested the approach in an urban setting thanks to support from Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation.

So, with the support of Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation (the official charity of NHS Lothian) and start-up funding provided by the RSPB, an Edinburgh pilot of Nature Prescriptions was formed working with five GP practices across the city.

The pilot was due to begin in spring 2020 but was delayed due to the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was restarted in November that year, despite ongoing pressures, as GPs were keen to begin with one saying that “Nature Prescriptions is needed now more than ever”.

Nearly 350 patients across all age groups received a Nature Prescription. Prescriptions were given for 32 different conditions, most (69%) were given to support mental health, with 17% given to support physical health and 10% for both.

Nearly three-quarters of patients who provided feedback said they had benefited from their Nature Prescription, with most continuing to connect with nature each week, and 87% of them saying it was likely or very likely that they would continue using their prescription.

Find out more

The Nature Prescriptions pilot in Edinburgh was supported by the work of greenspace scotland through our work with NHS Lothian, Edinburgh & Lothians Health Foundation and a wide range of partners and stakeholders to develop the Greenspace and Health Strategic Framework for Edinburgh & Lothians.

Visit the greenspace and health section to find out more about how greenspace scotland have been working to demonstrating the positive impact that greenspaces can have on physical and mental health.