Branching Out

Branching Out

Branching Out is a programme of therapeutic activities in woodlands, pioneered by the Forestry Commission Scotland, working with mental health patients referred by medical practitioners, using interaction with woodlands to improve mental health and well-being.

Following the success of a pilot programme carried out in the West of Scotland, which achieved demonstrable improvements to mental health amongst participants, the Forestry Commission Scotland is working in partnership with ELGT to launch Branching Out in the Lothians. ELGT staff will work with referred patients, delivering activities in woodlands, including green exercise, environmental arts and crafts, conservation activities and woodland guided walks to explore local community woodlands and learn about native animals and birds.

Forestry Commission Scotland Branching Out Programme

The programme is designed to work with individuals, to help improve factors such as self esteem and confidence, and the pilot programme has achieved a 75% retention rate amongst referred patients.

If you would like to find out more about the programme, please contact Esperanza on 0131 445 4025 or

"Branching Out has helped me in ways I never thought possible. Spending time outdoors, exploring, thinking and feeling in touch with nature, has made me feel different about life." Branching Out participant

Funded by: Forestry Commission Scotland


  • 17 people completed registration forms
  • 10 people presented with John Muir Discovery Awards
  • 7 support workers engaged
  • 24 Branching Out sessions delivered
  • 6 bird boxes built


  • Mental health of participants improved through involvement in woodland activities
  • Wellbeing and self-esteem improved through guided and group-based activities
  • Physical health promoted through gentle outdoor exercise
  • Involvement in similar outdoor activities promoted.
  • Access to the outdoors for adults with mental health issues increased.
  • Knowledge of woodland areas increased
  • Woodland-based knowledge and conservation skills developed
  • Confidence in using woodland areas improved
  • Importance and understanding of conservation of woodland areas promoted