Changing NHSScotland grasslands – a win-win for biodiversity and Scotland’s health

A new report is now available that can help boards improve their biodiversity, save money and bring health and wellbeing benefits to the communities they serve. We speak to Grassland Management Report author Anne Lumb to find out more…

Why we need this report – why is biodiversity important?

Biodiversity loss is one of the three interlinked issues that humanity currently faces, alongside climate change and pollution. These are often referred to as the ‘triple planetary crisis’ – and they need to be tackled urgently.

As Anne (Sustainability Manager, Greenspace, Biodiversity and Green Health, Sustainability Action Programme team) explains, “here in the UK, we’ve lost 97% of our wildflower meadows since the 1950s, which has a huge impact on the plants and animals that depend on them. We need to improve biodiversity – it is critical to human survival.

“NHSScotland already has a fundamental role to play in protecting Scotland’s health and wellbeing. Our outdoor estate is a significant public land asset – and with the range of greenspaces we have as part of our estate, we can make a real difference to biodiversity too.

“All boards need to play our part in tackling the climate emergency. The NHSScotland climate emergency and sustainability strategy: 2022-2026 sets out how – explaining what action boards need to take across a range of areas, including improving biodiversity.

No time like the present

“We’ve produced the Grassland Management Report to help boards take action on one habitat type – grasslands. Now is a good time to look at grasslands, with spring now upon us and No-Mow May just round the corner.”

The report covers:

  • why it’s important to take action – the wide-ranging benefits including environmental, cost and wellbeing
  • how to take action – including tips and case studies
  • signposting to wider organisations with expert knowledge who can work in partnership to support initiatives

The benefits – why make NHSScotland sites more biodiverse?

Anne continues: “creating species-rich grasslands can provide homes for plants, insects (especially pollinators like bees), birds, reptiles and mammals. But as well as the obvious environmental gains, improving biodiversity can bring many benefits for boards and the communities they serve.

“There are cost savings to be made – for example, boards could spend less time and money on grass cutting, and there would be no need to buy synthetic fertilisers.

“Changing grassland management could also bring health and wellbeing benefits, including improved local air quality, spaces for therapeutic and community use, and the opportunity for patients, staff, visitors and the local community to connect with nature.”

Why take action on grasslands?

Anne explains: “This could be a real ‘quick win’ for one habitat type and could help contribute to biodiversity action plans, which will help boards meet their statutory requirements for biodiversity.

“We know some boards have been carrying out habitat surveys and developing their greenspaces. We hope this report will help boards see what is possible and encourage them to act – the more boards get involved, the more we can deliver for biodiversity and for Scotland’s health.”

How can board colleagues find out more?

You can read the Grassland Management Report on the NHS National Services Scotland website. If you want to discuss changing grassland management practices, fill in the contact form below.