Branching out

What is Branching Out?

A Forestry Commission Scotland initiative that supports adults experiencing mental ill health. Click here to read a piece of research carried out by Forestry Commission Scotland looking at the efficacy for therapeutic greenspace models.

Who does the project benefit?

Groups of adults who use mental health services in Scotland.

What are the benefits?

  • Certificates of completion, tool handling and achievement (eg. The John Muir Award)
  • Signposting on to community-based leisure, volunteer and training opportunities.
  • Improved mental well-being
  • Reduced social isolation
  • Increased activity and constructive stimuli
  • Improved chances of employment
  • Increased confidence and self-esteem

When does the project run?

The service consists of approximately three hours of activities per week in a woodland setting over a 12 week period.

What are the activities?

Physical activities

  • Health walks
  • Tai chi

Conservation activities

  • Rhododendron clearance
  • Bird box construction.

Bushcraft activities

  • Fire lighting
  • Shelter building

Environmental art

  • Photography
  • Willow sculptures.

On completion of the course there is an awards ceremony


Branching Out is a project devised and funded by Forestry Commission Scotland. New Caledonian Woodlands is one of a number of delivery partners and runs Branching Out groups in Perthshire, Fife and the Lothians.

How do you become a participant?

Unlike our Good Wood project, referrals are not made directly to New Caledonian Woodlands. Instead, a mental health service provider selects a group of 10-12 participants who meet the referral criteria and provide a member of staff to co-lead all sessions alongside two New Caledonian Woodlands project officers.

If you’re a service provider interested in delivering a Branching Out for your user group, please contact Andy Ross to discuss your proposal:

Funding provision from Forestry Commission Scotland means that there is usually no fee for Branching Out.

(NB: Activities are adapted to suit the participant group, site and time of year)