This project was a partnership between the Friends, the Forestry Commission, Gateshead Primary Care Trust, and Derwentside Primary Care Trust. This pilot project based at Chopwell Wood took place in 2004/5 to identify the potential for woodlands to contribute to the government health agenda. A Health Development worker was employed to oversee the project.
The aim of the project was to improve the health within the local community by improving links with the local health service and health promotion providers, and by highlighting the value of use of the woodland for health. Local GP Surgeries and local Primary Schools were involved, with activity programmes being offered and healthy eating encouraged.
Government guidelines aim for 30 minutes of moderate physical activity 5 times per week, and undertaking this within a natural setting can extend positive influence on both physical and mental health. A programme of Tai Chi Sessions, Cycle Rides, and Guided Walks were set up for adults.
A survey was carried out for baseline data, and the project was monitored and evaluated by the Primary Care Centre of Northumbria University. The Evaluation Report is available from Forest Research at www.forestresearch.gov.uk/chopwellhealth