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20 June, 2024

NHS Orkney roll out ‘Nature Prescriptions’ following success in Shetland and Edinburgh

NHS Orkney roll out ‘Nature Prescriptions’ following success in Shetland and Edinburgh: Sam Stringer with Nature Calendar, St Margarets Hope 2 (c) Sarah Duly, NatureScot-2

Issued on behalf of the Species on the Edge partnership 

NHS Orkney has begun the roll out of ‘Nature Prescriptions’, a joint initiative with RSPB Scotland and conservation programme Species on the Edge, designed to increase patients’ physical and mental health through increased connection with nature.  

A Nature Prescription is a guided conversation between a healthcare professional and patient which explores how the patient can improve their mental and physical wellbeing through deepening their connection with nature. Alongside the conversation, patients are given a Nature Prescription Calendar which contains suggestions of seasonal activities they can try to help them connect to nature in a way that is personal and meaningful to them. 

A growing body of evidence finds that having a strong connection to nature, beyond simple exposure to the natural world, can result in multiple benefits to both physical and mental health. Benefits can include:  

  • Boosted immune system
  • Improved memory and concentration
  • Reduction in stress and promotion of relaxation
  • Improved sleep quality
  • Reduction in symptoms of anxiety and depression
  • Reduction in respiratory illnesses

The Nature Prescription initiative was first trialed in Scotland in Shetland and in five GP practices across Edinburgh. 74% of patients who took part in the trial reported having benefitted from their prescription and 91% of prescribing health professionals stated that they would continue to offer Nature Prescriptions. 

One patient who took part in the trial in Edinburgh said, “It is easy to forget just how helpful going for a walk in the woods, beach or park lifts your spirits, especially with “life” getting in the way. Having the “permission” to take time out and reconnect with nature has made a huge difference. It is a powerful and deep emotional boost/tonic that does help, as simple and basic as it may seem.”

Following the success of the trial in Shetland and Edinburgh, NHS Orkney have teamed up with RSPB Scotland and nature conservation programme, Species on the Edge, to roll out Nature Prescriptions in Orkney. 

Dr Brunt, GP at Skerryvore Practice, said: "Myself and other local doctors love the newly developed Orkney Nature Prescription Calendar and can't wait to introduce it to our patients during consultations. We are confident that nature prescribing will enhance our management of a wide range of physical and mental health conditions. Patients are therefore encouraged to ask their doctor or nurse about nature prescribing during discussion of treatment options for any new or long-term health condition.”

Laura Skaife-Knight, NHS Orkney Chief Executive, said: "I am delighted to see the Nature Prescription Calendar launching here in Orkney. We are in the fortunate position of having lots of outdoor space with so many beautiful areas to explore. I'd like to thank everyone involved in developing this Prescription Calendar. I look forward to seeing it benefit many members of our local community and the positive difference it will make.”

The Orkney-specific Nature Prescription Calendar has been produced to support patients in deepening their connection to their local natural world. Suggested activities include listening out for different bird calls, selecting an outdoor spot close to home to regularly sit with nature and observe any changes with the seasons, keeping a ‘nature diary’, and observing the small details in nature such as the movement of light and shadows. 

Samantha Stringer, Species on the Edge People Engagement Officer in Orkney, said: “Taking the time to connect with nature allows us to reflect and helps us slow down to notice and experience not just nature, but ourselves. We become more mindful, and our curiosity opens to see new things that encourage, inspire and delight us - extraordinary moments in the ordinary. 

“We hope that Nature Prescriptions can provide personal and meaningful connections, improving physical and mental wellbeing and complementing other health interventions. We have included accessible activities for a range of patients and conditions which may include mental health, chronic pain, and long-term health issues. 

“Each month there are ten activities to try, many of which can be done simply from a window, a small garden, or in a local area. And this year Species on the Edge are going beyond the calendar to run a series of free wellbeing events linked to some of the monthly activity suggestions.” 

To find out more about these wellbeing events in Orkney, contact:

For media enquiries, please contact Species on the Edge Communications Manager Eilidh Ross: / 07954144375.

Contact information

NatureScot Media
0131 316 2655

Notes to editors

Species on the Edge is a multi-partner species conservation programme dedicated to working with communities across Scotland’s coasts and islands to help them secure a future for their local vulnerable and threatened wildlife, as well as helping them deepen their connection to their local wildlife and wild spaces.

Funded by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, the partnership consists of Amphibian and Reptile Conservation, Bat Conservation Trust, Buglife, Bumblebee Conservation Trust, Butterfly Conservation, NatureScot, Plantlife, and RSPB Scotland. The programme is active across seven landscape-scale areas in Scotland: Argyll and the Inner Hebrides; Outer Hebrides; North Coast; Orkney; Shetland; East Coast; and the Solway Coast.

RSPB Scotland is part of the RSPB, the UK’s largest nature conservation charity. Protecting habitats, saving species and helping to end the nature and climate emergency. Nature is in crisis. Together we can save it. 

NatureScot is Scotland's nature agency. We work to enhance our natural environment in Scotland and inspire everyone to care more about it. Our priority is a nature-rich future for Scotland and an effective response to the climate emergency. For more information, visit our website at or follow us on Twitter at

’S e NatureScot buidheann nàdair na h-Alba. Bidh sinn a’ neartachadh àrainneachd na h-Alba agus a’ brosnachadh dhaoine gu barrachd suim a chur ann an nàdar. Tha e mar phrìomhachas againn gum bi nàdar na h-Alba beairteach agus gun dèilig sinn gu h-èifeachdach le èiginn na gnàth-shìde. Tha an tuilleadh fiosrachaidh aig no air Twitter aig


Sam Stringer with Nature Calendar, St Margarets Hope 2 (c) Sarah Duly, NatureScot-2: Sam Stringer with Nature Calendar, St Margarets Hope 2 (c) Sarah Duly, NatureScot-2

Sam Stringer with Nature Calendar, St Margarets Hope 2 (c) Sarah Duly, NatureScot-2

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Sam Stringer with Nature Calendar, St Margarets Hope (c) Sarah Duly, NatureScot

Sam Stringer with Nature Calendar, St Margarets Hope (c) Sarah Duly, NatureScot

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