A TRIAL which saw healthcare professionals at five practices in Edinburgh prescribing “nature” has revealed that 87% of patients will continue to make the most of it in order to help their health and wellbeing.

A new report, launched today, details the findings of the Nature Prescriptions Edinburgh trial.

Nearly 350 patients were prescribed nature as part of treatment for 32 different health conditions and demonstrated why it should be part of healthcare toolkits in the future.

Part of a collaboration between RSPB Scotland, Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation and local GPs, the trial looked to see whether the idea – which originated in Shetland in 2017 – could work in an urban environment.

Of the 335 recorded prescriptions, 69% were given to support mental health conditions, with anxiety and depression being the two most cited reasons.

A further 17% were for physical health, including obesity and diabetes, while 10% were for both mental and physical conditions.

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.

The main reasons given for liking the prescription were that it gave patients the permission and motivation to engage with nature, it was a drug-free safe alternative and they thought it was working.

Nature prescription, in addition to the benefit of spending time and exercising outdoors, also focuses on connecting with nature in personal, emotional and meaningful ways. Some of the activities suggested in the Edinburgh pilot included tuning in to the changing seasons, listening to nearby birdsong, getting to know a neighbourhood tree and helping local wildlife thrive.

Ian Mackenzie, green health programme manager for Edinburgh and Lothians Health Foundation, said: “In urban areas such as Edinburgh we often overlook the nature on

our doorsteps and this has been a great way for people to explore how nature can make us both healthier and happier.

“We are delighted to have worked in partnership with RSPB Scotland and GP practices across Edinburgh on the Nature Prescriptions pilot and are so pleased to see that it has resulted in more people connecting with nature and experiencing the benefits that this brings.