Benefits of woodland and greenspace

Regular contact with good quality greenspace is linked to better health, reduced levels of chronic stress, reductions in obesity and improved concentration.

Greenspace and woodlands provide the ideal setting to promote health and physical activity. A large percentage of these benefits are derived from people becoming more physically active in outdoor settings through activities like walking and cycling.

Mental benefits

  • Anger reduction
  • Attention restoration
  • Positive mood and enhanced mental health
  • Restorative effect from stress and mental fatigue

Physical benefits

  • Reduced risk of heart disease, obesity, type 2 diabetes, cancer, osteoporosis and other life-threatening conditions
  • Opportunities to improve stamina and physical mobility

Social benefits

  • Improved perception of neighbourhood, increased social interaction and stronger communities
  • Improved sense of place and reduction in inequalities between the richest and poorest in society

Forests and dementia

Greenspace can help those affected by early stage dementia, through creating meaningful experiences and increasing feelings of self-worth.


A 10 week pilot programme held in Callander Wood, Falkirk, provided the basis for Mandy Cook, a PhD student with the University of Dundee, to carry out an initial study on dementia and the woodland environment.

Led by rangers, it involved 3 hours of woodland-based activities once a week including walks, tree planting, fire lighting, woodland cooking, nature photography, willow sculpting and tree and bird identification.

Read Mandy's PhD study.

As a result of Mandy's research, we've supported programme delivery in Falkirk, Clackmannanshire, Edinburgh and Inverness, and supported dementia awareness training for outdoor leaders and forest rangers in partnership with Alzheimer Scotland.

Getting dog walkers more active in woodlands

In 2016, Forestry Commission Scotland, The Kennel Club and Paths for All commissioned some research in communities near urban woodlands in Glasgow. The work focused on providing low cost, sustainable and accessible health benefits for both people and dogs. 

Read the dog walking research summary.

Read specifications for dog walking friendly sites.