Five hundred trees are being planted near Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary Hospital today as part of a search engine’s mission to support NHS staff’s long-term wellbeing.

It is hoped that the trees – planted at Hunters Hall Park by global not-for-profit web browser Ecosia – will “provide a space for rest and relaxation for generations of NHS workers and their patients for many years to come”.

This is the second time the search engine, which has over 1 million UK users, has planted trees near the hospital.

In March this year, Ecosia planted an initial 500 trees, also at Hunters Hall Park, which were dedicated to NHS staff as a “living monument and a gesture of thanks” from the general public for their efforts fighting Covid-19.

The trees have been funded through the ‘Grow Your Love’ campaign, a long-term initiative with the NHS Forest and Trees for Cities to plant trees in and surrounding hospitals in the UK to create green spaces to help support staff’s long-term wellbeing.

They are being delivered alongside Edinburgh and Lothian Greenspace Trust (ELGT).

Recent reports have highlighted intensive care unit staff suffering adverse mental health symptoms following the pandemic, whilst studies have proven the benefits between spending time in nature and overall health.

The trees will increase biodiversity and access to local wildlife, as well as remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and improve overall air quality around the hospital, which was recently the first hospital to be awarded a Keep Scotland Beautiful Green Flag Award acknowledging that green spaces help to boost health and wellbeing.

The project is also one of three Ecosia tree-planting projects across Scotland, including a project which launched yesterday at Brownside Braes in Paisley, Glasgow, highlighting the search engine’s long term commitment to the region.

Sophie Dembinski, Ecosia’s UK country manager, said: “The #GrowYourLove campaign initially came out of a desire to show support and appreciation to NHS staff during the first Covid-19 lockdown. But significant pressures remain on the NHS long after the lockdowns have ended, with NHS workers continuing to work tirelessly to treat thousands who have been waiting months for medical treatment.

“For many local communities access to nature and clean air particularly around UK hospitals is a real problem. Covid 19 highlighted the crucial links between the health of the planet and our collective wellbeing, and the talks currently taking place at COP26 in Glasgow only reinforce this.

“We hope that the trees planted near the Royal Infirmary during COP26 will help to restore biodiversity and provide a space for rest and relaxation for generations of NHS workers and their patients for many years to come.” 

Since November 2020, over 2,000 trees have been planted by Ecosia at more than 30 hospitals and trusts around the UK including Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust; Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool; Hillingdon Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Greater London and Newcastle University Hospital Trust through the initiative. 

Founded in 2009, Ecosia now has over 15 million active users and has planted over 130 million trees to date. Each search on Ecosia removes an estimated 0.5kg carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.