£1million fund to bring Scotland’s communities closer to nature

Hannah Downey

From creating homes for frogs to discovering hidden gardens in our cities, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is awarding almost £1m to projects set to bring local communities closer to nature.  

The 11 projects will help communities take an active role in managing their local green spaces and benefit from the improvements in health that come from connecting with the natural world.

Minister for Rural Affairs and the Natural Environment, Mairi Gougeon, recently visited the ‘Recovery Though Green Infrastructure’ project, ran by the Cyrenians at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital - the main hospital for mental health treatment in the Lothian area.

The project is to receive £48k to provide patients and volunteers with more therapeutic opportunities to grow and cook their own food.

Ms Gougeon said:  “Through Scottish Natural Heritage, the Scottish Government is proud to support the delivery of the Green Infrastructure Fund, which helps communities to utilise Scotland’s natural environment for a huge range of health and social benefits.

“This funding is going towards fantastic projects like the one I’m visiting at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital today, which provides therapeutic community growing and cooking events for patients.”   

Lucy Holroyd, Cyrenians Gardens Manager said: “We are incredibly grateful for the support from Scottish Natural Heritage as it allows us to provide even more patients in hospital with the opportunity to participate in therapeutic nature-based activities.

“We are incredibly proud of the work we do here, and the amazing volunteers and patients we meet every day. This funding will allow us to continue building meaningful relationships through outdoor activities, improving wellbeing and acting as an additional step in people’s recovery.”

SNH’s Chair, Mike Cantlay added: “We know that living in great places brings huge benefits for physical and mental health.  But in some areas, there is little or no opportunity to even access the fundamentals of nature.

“We want our Green Infrastructure Fund to help create beautiful places to live - as well as growing more prosperous communities. Our first exciting range of projects is underway, and this latest funding means we can work with even more communities, helping to spread the benefits of Scotland’s nature for generations to come.”

Nearly £500k in funding was provided through the ERDF Green Infrastructure Fund, which is led by SNH, with match funding from other organisations bringing the total project value to £1m. The Green Infrastructure Fund is a £40m multi-year investment to improve the environment in underprivileged areas of Scotland’s towns and cities.

The 11 projects awarded funding from the Green Infrastructure Community Engagement Fund can be viewed on the Scottish Natural Heritage website.