OPENspace has been awarded a £1m grant by the NHS’ National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) to assess the effectiveness of a Forestry Commission Scotland programme in Scotland’s ‘central belt’. Spanning seven years and two phases to date, the Woods In and Around Towns (WIAT) initiative focuses on improving quality of life in Scotland’s urban and post-industrial areas through community access to new or regenerated woodland.

Taking into account both the social and economic cost of poor mental health in Scotland (the latter estimated at some £10.7bn), the four-year study funded by the NIHR will look specifically at the impact of WIAT on the psychological wellbeing and stress levels of people living in deprived communities. Running from 2012 to 2015, it will involve researchers from the Universities of Edinburgh, Glasgow, Heriot-Watt and Queen Mary (London), under the direction of Professor Catharine Ward Thompson.

Further information is available on the NIHR website.