May 23, 2022
Christine, Country Communications Manager, RSPB Scotland

During epidemics many of us have turned to nature for comfort, help or just to change the scene. A UK survey last January found that more than half of people thought the epidemic had made them more aware of nature, and about two-thirds found it easier to see and hear birds.

Since the 1960’s, we’ve known patients who are treated in hospitals with a view to recovering quickly. Now, there is a growing body of evidence in many situations that nature can help with anxiety and even diabetes.

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But nature is in crisis – half of our generations have been wiped out since the 1970s – and not everyone has equal access to it. Now is the time to change it for the benefit of nature and self.

Nature’s prescription is about building a deep and personal connection with nature to help with health and wellness. As nature nurtures us, the relationships we form can deepen our care and concern for nature.

Last month RSPB Scotland published a report on the value of Nature prescriptions for both patients and healthcare professionals and provided guidance on how to effectively address this approach in primary care setting. How to deliver from

Natural prescriptions are designed to help healthcare professionals write a formal prescription to connect with nature so that their patients can benefit from nature’s benefits for health and wellness. They use their medical knowledge to choose which patients to customize the prescription and whether it will be used instead of or with other treatment options.

The prescription is accompanied by a booklet and a calendar of local, seasonal activities. All are designed to help foster a deeper and more meaningful relationship with nature and can all be done individually.

Nature Recipes began in 2017 as a partnership between RSPB Scotland and NHS Shetland and expanded a year later. It was well received by local GPs and patients. However, all the impressions were fictional.

Therefore, the Edinburgh and Lutheran Health Foundation (NHS Lothian’s government charity) and five Edinburgh’s A pilot was launched to partner with local GPs. Methods. Despite the disruption caused by CoVID-19, 335 patients were referred to Nature for help in 32 different situations.

More than three-quarters of respondents felt they had benefited from their prescription and 87% said it was possible or very likely they would continue to use it.

Patients said they liked the formal prescription because it allowed and encouraged them to engage with nature, it was a safe drug-free alternative and they thought it worked.

Looking to the future, RSPB Scotland believes that nature prescriptions can be part of the solution, given the growing stress and strain on medical professionals and the increasing pressure on nature. We want a future where every healthcare professional can prescribe nature, where nature thrives in our cities and our countryside, and whose restoration is invested in its own and ours. Everyone should have access to the benefits of being connected to nature.

Christine, Country Communications Manager, RSPB Scotland

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