Tag Archives: health and nature

Dementia Wellbeing

Rachel and Sue with their woven willow butterfly and dragonfly; Jeannette decided hers was a long-eared bat!

Through 2017 we have worked with the Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service to deliver a programme of wellbeing activities for people with dementia and their partners based at Conham River Park and Kingsweston House. This follows on from a successful and evaluated pilot in 2016 (published in the journal Working with Older People).

This is another successful application of the Trust’s ‘woodland wellbeing’ approach which has seen us work with and benefit groups across Avon over the last 7 years.

Executive Director: Jon Clark said:

‘It is particularly pleasing to be working with the Bristol Dementia Wellbeing Service as this represents a commitment by the NHS to funding effective wellbeing activities in the natural (woodland) environment. This successful project owes much to the vision of the  Wellbeing Service (Devon Partnership NHS Trust and the Alzheimer’s Society), as well as the skills of Nicola Ramsden and Rachel Tomlinson, in tailoring activities to need.’

Enabling a wide range of people to benefit from local woodlands is central to the Trust’s ethos and as well as the above, we run activities for adults with learning disabilities; people with mental health needs; and young people with special or behavioural needs. This work is supported by a range of grant funders. To find out more about our woodland wellbeing work, please email: jonclark@forestofavontrust.org

Posted in: Latest News, Our Projects, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , |

Young People Getting to Know Local Woodlands

We are working with 10 secondary schools across the area and taking  young people with a range of physical and learning needs to visit a local woodland to learn about the woodland environment and acquire new skills. Funded by the Ernest Cook Trust activities have included improving paths for visitors, trying woodland crafts and perhaps best of all, toasting marshmallows.

This work (thanks to the Ernest Cook Trust) is part of our wider suite of ‘Woodland Wellbeing’ projects which are bringing the considerable benefits of woodland activities to a growing range of people in the Bristol area. To find out more about what we do, please email Nicola Ramsden at: wellbeing@forestofavontrust.org

Posted in: Latest News, Our Projects, Outdoor Learning, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , , |

Professor Alice Roberts

Trust Patron: Professor Alice Roberts talks about the importance of woodlands, the Forest of Avon Trust and a major new research project launched this week:

I’m passionate about the importance of woodlands – and that importance ranges from the global and economic to the deeply personal and psychological. Forests form a critical component of global ecosystems – and are crucially important for humanity. They support a huge range of life – home to half of all known species; they play crucial roles in carbon and water cycles; they provide us with building materials and fuel; and as we walk through them, they fill us with a sense of calm and wellbeing.

 It’s hard to believe it, but the UK has the lowest woodland cover of any European country. After millennia of deforestation – which started thousands of years ago, in the Neolithic, as farmers cleared woodland to make way for crops and livestock – there’s now a pressing to re-forest. Visions of a sustainable UK include much larger areas of managed woodland. The mission of the Forest of Avon Trust includes protecting trees and woodland, planting more, and helping people to enjoy these wonderful natural spaces.

The University of Birmingham is committed to forest research, which will inform how we sustain and nurture our woodlands as the climate changes. We’ve just launched a multi-million pound open-air experiment aimed at understanding how woodlands will respond to rising levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere this century. You can read more about the Birmingham Institute of Forest Research here. ’

Find out more about the Forest of Avon Trust’s wide- ranging work in Bristol & Avon here and follow us on Twitter to keep up to date on the latest tree & woodland news.

Posted in: Business Sponsors, Forest of Avon, Future Woods, Latest News, Our Projects, Outdoor Learning, Professor Alice Roberts, Safeguarding our Trees, Woodland Management, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , , , , , |

Woodland Wellbeing Dementia Project

The Forest of Avon Trust’s Woodland Wellbeing Dementia Project is an example of a fundamental part of the ethos of the charity at work.

This has been to both apply and develop best practice in the delivery of the benefits of the being in the natural environment.

In this work, the Trust applies the principles of Forest School to deliver successful projects tailored to the needs of diverse groups tackling isolation, developing confidence and more widely improving quality of life.  Currently we are proud to be delivering a project working with people with dementia and their partners and carers.

Woodland activities in sessions have included:

• walking
• listening to bird song
• making kazoos
• making quills to write down thoughts
• making mallets
• using various flowers & berries to make hapa zome bunting

To find out more about our work, or to discuss a new project, email: jonclark@forestofavontrust.org

Posted in: Latest News, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , |

Woodlands for mental wellbeing

This summer we’ve been running a series of woodland sessions aimed at people with low to mid-level mental health needs based in the community. We wanted to encourage people to get outside, spend some relaxing time in nature, meet other people and try new things.

We hoped that people would find out if being in nature could help them develop coping strategies for daily life.

This pilot project was run in association with Public Health: Bristol and Lawrence Weston Community Farm. Participants were told about the sessions by their GP and could attend free of charge.

Activities ranged from making elderflower cordial to whittling, learning about wildlife and trying out simple survival skills. Participants came up with ideas of what they wanted to do, and session leaders helped them to follow their interests by providing expertise and support.

Feedback at the end of the pilot was very positive. One participant said, “I no longer stare at the ground when walking about, instead I’ve learned from being here to look around at all the colours, remember tree names and maybe collect fallen leaves”.

They went on to say, “my family and boyfriend have noticed a big improvement in my depression and are always asking what I have done when I come home.”

We hope to expand the Forest of Avon Trust’s nature-based health and wellbeing projects in 2016, based on the interests and needs of different groups. Do get in touch if you are interested in working with us: jonclark@forestofavontrust.org

Posted in: Latest News, Our Projects, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , |

Woodland Works

Collecting tree guards

Two groups of adults with learning difficulties have been visiting The Retreat over the last year to learn new skills and help us manage the woodland.

Last week people from Choices4U helped clear dozens of tree guards and create a small area of hazel coppice. Participants from The Milestone Trust’s Stepping Forward group have also been hard at work in the woods, creating a dead hedge and pond dipping amongst other things.

The Woodland Works project was funded by South Gloucestershire Learning Difficulties Development Board and The Baily Thomas Charitable Trust and has been running since last summer. Participants have learned about fire lighting, shelter building, safe use of tools and wildlife identification (in all kinds of weather!)

A support worker from Milestone Trust said: “The retreat experience gave the service users valuable outdoor experiences. Learning about safety outdoors and using tools and fire. They learned to work together as a team and did independent projects. Outdoor confidence grew as they learned to make things from nature… All ask to go back to experience more.”

Using hand made bows and arrows

It hasn’t all been hard work though! The groups have also had fun making bows and arrows, building shelters, making music and creating woodland art. The Retreat also provides a therapeutic environment to spend time sitting quietly, listening and watching, a chance to feel connected to nature.

If you are interested in finding out more about Woodland Works, please contact: jonattwood@forestofavontrust.org

Posted in: Forest School, Latest News, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , |

North Somerset’s Trees Remove £1.7 Million of Pollutants/ Year

Through 2013 the Trust worked with a group of committed volunteer Tree Wardens in North Somerset to survey nearly 200 sites across the District to collect information on any trees present. This information, along with climatic data for the survey period, has now been processed using the US Forestry Service’s iTree model.

The results graphically set out the invaluable pollution management services that North Somerset’s trees provide. They also demonstrate the huge contribution that volunteers can make and this project is the first to use volunteers to collect information in the UK.

In North Somerset, tree cover removes harmful pollutants (CO, NO2, O3, PM10, PM2.5, SO2), with an annual average value of £1,703,648.30.  This is another compelling reason why we need to look after our existing trees and plant more of them.

The iTree model can be applied at a variety of scales ranging from a local authority to a Parish or Ward, or a local park/ green space. The Trust can provide a free introductory meeting, or a detailed briefing for £125. Details of these and other services are here: iTree Flyer Text_1.

Posted in: Future Woods, Latest News, Our Projects, Safeguarding our Trees | Tagged , |

Woodland Activity Family Day

Marshmallows being cooked.

Cooking on the fire.

The Forest of Avon Trust in partnership with with Bristol Adoption Support Service has run a day for 30 people in the woods at Ashton Court Estate. The family groups went on a short walk across the top of Ashton Court Estate exploring natural colours that can be found in the landscape. Then, in a small woodland clearing the group  spent the day enjoying games and activities in the woods, as well as having a relaxing lunch and marshmallows toasted on the fire.

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Posted in: Our Projects, Outdoor Learning, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , , |

Woodland Conference

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Posted in: Community Partners, Forest School, Latest News, Outdoor Learning, Training activities | Tagged , , |

Groups with Learning Disabilities go ‘Into the Woods’

Into the Woods Project

Exploring natural colours in the woods and creating a Natures Palette

Sessions run by Natural Connections to work with Adults with Learning Disabilities are being further developed through a new project ‘Into the Woods’. The development of a new partnership with the Silvanus Trust and the Faculty of Education at the University of Plymouth has made it possible to extend this work and explore in more detail the potential benefits. The project is being developed and run by Nicola Ramsden and Rachel Tomlinson for the Forest of Avon Trust and has three main aims:

  • To explore what people think and feel about their involvement in woodland activities and how their experiences contribute to their personal and social wellbeing;
  • To help people providing these activities to establish the benefit they have;
  • To share the results and any lessons for best practice, with other people who provide woodland activities, as well as funders and researchers.

Information and feedback will be collected before, during and after the six sessions being run with the groups, from Shirelink day care centre and City of Bristol College. A report will be produced evaluating ‘Into the Woods’ and findings will be used to inform best practice.

Posted in: Latest News, Our Projects, Woodland Wellbeing | Tagged , |