Suffolk’s first ‘healing woods’ locations announced

Four locations have been announced by Suffolk County Council as ‘healing woods and spaces’, which will offer people better access to nature and provide a positive legacy to the pandemic.

The healing woods and spaces will be located in Bury St Edmunds, Combs & Little Finborough, Eye and Hopton.

The council’s healing woods project connects with the motion unanimously passed by the county’s councillors earlier this year, to commit to developing mental health support in Suffolk, in response to the impacts of the pandemic.

Research, such as that recently published by the University of Essex with The Green Light Trust, demonstrated that access to woodlands and green space can significantly improve people’s wellbeing.

The four sites will develop unused spaces and existing green areas, to make them more accessible and offer dedicated places for peaceful reflection and a positive focus.

Councillor Richard Rout, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance and Environment at Suffolk County Council, said:

“I’m delighted that we’ve been able to identify four suitable locations, the first of many I hope. We will be providing advice, technical support and some funding to help develop these areas. 

“I’ve been extremely impressed by the vision and thoughtfulness of each of these projects. Across them we will see things like new seating areas, sensory gardens, vegetable growing plots, better connections between existing green areas, hedge planting and opportunities for community activities.

“The site in Hopton is particularly exciting as it will look to establish a community woodland on an area which was formerly used as a village tip and whilst rural, has fantastic accessibility. It is also a brilliant example of the expertise we have in our communities and the opportunities of partnership working.

“I’m really grateful to the parish councils, local councillors, and volunteers for all they have done to make these projects a reality – demonstrating the fantastic community ethos we have here in Suffolk. 

“The inspiration for healing woods was as a memorial to those we have lost during the pandemic. These spaces will offer that opportunity for reflection, whilst also showing that nature is accessible to everyone and our mental health can benefit from being in touch with these outdoor spaces.

“Thank you to everyone who has contacted us with suggestions for sites. We’re still hoping to create more sites, and would very much welcome suggestions for Ipswich, East Suffolk, and anywhere else in the county that may be interested. Not every location can be suitable, but we will look into every site, and I hope to be able to announce more soon.”

If you would like to propose a suitable site which could be developed as healing woods or spaces, email [email protected]

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