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Tiny Forest brings the restorative power of nature to mental health patients

It was a typical British December day in Oxford with biting cold and relentless rain. And yet this didn’t dampen spirits as teams from Earthwatch Europe and MINI Plant Oxford along with staff and patients from Littlemore Mental Health Centre, got together to plant Littlemore’s Tiny Forest.

Photo credit: Sam Chick, Junction Eleven

Together they successfully planted 600 saplings on site, featuring 18 different UK tree species. The aim for this forest, as well as boosting local biodiversity, is to provide patients, staff and visitors with green space to enjoy and reconnect with nature. The Tiny Forest will also enhance the stay and recovery for the patients who are in the centre’s care.

 

The Littlemore Mental Health Centre provides specialist care for people experiencing a range of mental health difficulties. It includes a psychiatric intensive care unit and forensic mental health services. Nature can be hugely beneficial for our mental health. Wildlife-rich environments reduce stress, improve mood, and reduce social isolation. People with nature on their doorstep are more active, mentally resilient and have better general health.

Martin Brimacombe, Estates Officer for the Littlemore Centre, has also taken on the role of Tree Keeper for this Tiny Forest. Tree Keepers are volunteers who help maintain and monitor Tiny Forests and inspire their local communities to get involved.

He is passionate about creating a wild haven in the grounds. There are 17 bird boxes on site, including two owl boxes. Flowers have been planted alongside the existing stream. Developing wildflower meadows create a riot of colour for both people and pollinators to enjoy. Martin is thrilled to have the Tiny Forest joining this mix of diverse habitats, making it a truly wild place that can provide peace and respite for patients and the local community.

Martin said,

“We all look forward, with other Tiny Forest Tree Keepers, to seeing the developments of this wonderful area, monitor and measure the growth performance and record wildlife and flora within it. The patients and the staff also plan to engage with the Tiny Forest as Tree Keepers and carry out works and activities.”

Find out more about how you can support Tiny Forest here.

Photo credit: Sam Chick, Junction Eleven

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