Capturing carbon, promoting wellbeing: CNTW to plant 1000 trees

Posted: 01/04/21

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is to plant a total of one thousand trees this month, at four mental health and disability hospitals across the north of England.

St George’s Park in Morpeth, Carleton Clinic in Carlisle, Hopewood Park in Sunderland and St Nicholas Hospital in Newcastle will each receive hundreds of trees, with volunteers, staff and service users getting involved in COVID-safe tree planting sessions.

The trees, supplied by the NHS Forest (run by the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare and funded by the Green Recovery Challenge Fund), will help the Trust towards its goal of achieving Net Zero by 2040. CNTW became the first mental health and disability trust to declare a Climate Emergency last year.

The trees also feed into the Trust’s Green Plan, to be launched by CNTW later this month. As part of this wider strategy for sustainability, the Trust is aiming to improve the existing use of green space for biodiversity as well as for staff and service users.

We are delighted to receive 1,000 trees to add to the NHS Forest. These trees are a lasting symbol of hope and growth, representing our commitment to providing sustainable healthcare and delivering our Green Plan goals. Our service users, staff and local communities will enjoy these trees for many years to come, benefitting from the mental and physical health benefits of being outside and connecting with nature.

Anna FosterTrust Lead for Strategy and Sustainability at CNTW

Once mature, the thousand trees have the potential to absorb twenty-one tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere every year, as well as providing a habitat for biodiversity across the sites and creating wildlife corridors to connect existing planted areas.

They will also play a role in supporting the wellbeing of staff and service users; screening eyesores such as car parks, providing shade and a space to connect with nature, and contributing to the walking routes that exist on three of the four sites to promote exercise and relaxation.

One of the polytunnels at Hopewood Park used by the Occupational Therapy team to grow plants with patients.
One of the polytunnels at Hopewood Park Hospital

The trees will form part of the broader development of green space throughout the sites, where ongoing activities currently include polytunnels and allotments used for occupational therapy activities. There are plans to develop a tree-lined memorial walk and create new opportunities for patients to access green space.

Carey Newson, from the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare, commented: “We are very excited to be working with CNTW and to see the NHS Forest expanding at these four healthcare sites. Trees are natural climate solutions with multiple benefits – contributing to biodiversity, carbon capture, shade, and air quality, as well as lifting our spirits and supporting mental health. The Trust is keen to make the most of their green spaces for patients and staff, and the new trees will help to do that.”

The NHS Forest is a national campaign to plant trees on or near NHS land. Since its inception in 2009, 200 NHS sites have joined the project and have planted over 67,000 trees. With new support from the Green Recovery Challenge Fund, the NHS Forest is expanding its tree planting activities this coming year. CNTW Trust is one of the first beneficiaries of the newly increased numbers of trees available for sites.

You can see some clips of the newly-planted trees in the video below: