We are very excited to introduce our speakers and chairs for the 2023 NHS Forest conference.

The free, online conference will take place on 18 October and will explore the potential of trees and woodlands on the NHS green estate. More information on the structure of the day is available here.

Alexis Percival – Yorkshire Ambulance Service

Alexis is the keynote speaker for the conference and will be talking about her experience of trees and tree planting within the NHS. Alexis is the Environmental and Sustainability Manager for Yorkshire Ambulance Service NHS Trust. She has been spearheading tree planting across the Yorkshire and Humber region. In her keynote speech she reflects on her experiences to date, what she has learned on the way, her ambitious plans for the future and the difference that trees are already making.

Warren Percival – RSK Group

Warren is the chair for our first session ‘Why trees and woodlands make sense on the NHS estate’. As RSK Group Healthcare Director, Warren is responsible for leading the development and implementation of RSK’s strategy across the healthcare sector and supporting NHS trusts across their value chain, and main contractors for estates development programmes. A Chartered Environmentalist and Fellow of IEMA, Warren is also the Chair of the UK Environmental Law Association (UKELA) and a keen advocate for embedding sustainability both at home and at work.

James Levine – University of Birmingham

James is a speaker in our first sessions ‘Why trees and woodlands make sense on the NHS estate’. He has over 15 years’ experience developing numerical models to explore influences on atmospheric composition, and chemistry-climate interactions. An interest in sustainable urban development, meanwhile, led him to complete a Batchelor’s degree in architecture and spend two years in architectural practice. Since returning to academia in 2018, James has led a programme of knowledge exchange and software innovation at the University of Birmingham to bridge between research and practice, surrounding the use of Green Infrastructure for Roadside Air Quality (GI4RAQ). With partners, including the Greater London Authority and Transport for London, they have developed prototype open-source software, enabling users (without a background in air quality) to estimate quantitatively the local impacts of proposed planting via changes in air flow. As a Future of UK Treescapes Fellow, James is now integrating the underlying code into a Geographic Information System (GIS) to help people to identify – across an estate, borough or even an entire city region – where street planting, and of what sort, could deliver the greatest air quality benefits.

David Armson – Mersey Forest

David is a speaker in our first session ‘Why trees and woodlands make sense on the NHS estate’. The Mersey Forest is a growing network of woodlands and green spaces across Cheshire and Merseyside. Through community and partnership working The Mersey Forest Partnership has planted more than 9 million trees – equivalent to five new trees for every person living within the Mersey Forest area.

Nick Porter – Forest Research

Nick is a speaker in our first session ‘Why trees and woodlands make sense on the NHS estate’. Nick is part of the Urban Forest Research group at Forest Research. He is involved with quantifying and mapping the benefits of tree and woodlands in the urban environment and investigating growth rates of novel tree species in the urban environment. Prior to working for Forest Research Nick worked for the Scottish Government monitoring virus levels in arable crops.  He has also worked for the Woodland Trust helping manage woodlands in central Scotland and as an arborist at gardens across the UK including Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, Syon Park London and RHS Wisley in Surrey. 

Ian Stenton – NHS England

Ian Stenton is the National Sustainability Programme Manager at NHS England. Ian joined the National NHS Estates and Facilities team in 2021, supporting all programmes to create a more sustainable NHS estate. This includes biodiversity planning and green space enhancement. Prior to joining the team, Ian was Head of Sustainability at Liverpool University Hospitals, where he supported the first Centre for Sustainable Healthcare Nature Recovery Ranger and won an NHS Forest award for the Broadgreen therapies garden. Ian will be the chair for the second session – ‘Planning for tree planting and woodland creation on the NHS estate’.

Amanda Newsome

Amanda Newsome – Forestry Commission

Amanda has worked in the nature conservation field for over 30 years. She joined the Forestry Commission in November 2022 to lead their work preparing staff and the wider forestry sector for the introduction of the new ‘Biodiversity Net Gain requirement. Prior to joining the Forestry Commission she worked for Natural England/English Nature for over 20 years, most recently on biodiversity net gain policy and biodiversity metric development and previously providing advice to landowners, local authorities and developers on protected sites and species and wider landscape and habitat conservation. Amanda will be a speaker in the second session – ‘Planning for tree planting and woodland creation on the NHS estate’.

Jim Smith

Jim Smith has been an urban forester for over 35 years. He first worked for the Forestry Commission on leaving school and returned to London to work as an arborist in the Royal Parks in the early 80s. He is a Chartered Member of the ICF and has twice been Chair of the London Tree Officers’ Association being involved in the production of many national and regional guidance documents involving trees. Notably the original and current versions of NJUG 10; Guidelines for the Planning Installation, Maintenance and Repair of Utility Services in Proximity to Trees (Now Street Works UK Volume 4), The Institution of Structural Engineer’s document Subsidence of Low Rise Buildings 2000 (co-authoring Chapter 8), The LTOA’s document,  A Risk Limitation Strategy for Tree Root Claims 2007, The Joint Mitigation Protocol, No Trees No Future (The Trees and Design Action Group) The National Tree Safety Group’s guidance Common sense risk management of trees, is author of local authority guidance for producing a comprehensive tree and woodland strategy,  main contributor on the urban tree content of the Biodiversity Net Gain Metric and is also a member of the British Standards Institute committee on standards for trees. He was appointed the London Tree and Woodland Framework Manager in 2006 and is now the Forestry Commission’s National Urban Forestry Advisor. Jim will be a speaker in the second session – ‘Planning for tree planting and woodland creation on the NHS estate’.

Carly Harper – City of Trees

Carly Harper Joined City of Trees in January 2023. She specialises in stakeholder and community engagement and has trained in facilitation, engagement practices, experience-based design, and public speaking. As project coordinator for the Woodland Creation Accelerator Fund, Carly collaborates with local authorities, organisations, and other stakeholders to identify potential planting sites and explore opportunities to increase woodlands across Greater Manchester. Carly will be a speaker in the second session – ‘Planning for tree planting and woodland creation on the NHS estate’.

Helen Townsend – Forestry Commission

Helen is the Head of People, Landscape and Historic Environment for the Forestry Commission. She has been in this role for over 22 years, starting her early career with the National Rivers Authority/Environment Agency, then with a professional Institute. She has a background in environmental management but throughout her career has focussed on the benefits to people of a good quality environment and how those benefits can be more equitably shared throughout society. She lives in Berkshire where she works from home. She enjoys playing tennis and benefits physically and mentally from daily walking her two Labradors in local woodland. Helen will be the chair for our third session – ‘Trees, woodlands and health in action’.

Gordon Malcolm – Dementia Adventure

Gordon is an Education Graduate, with more than thirty years’ experience of helping others to learn and grow. He is passionate about being outdoors and recognises the benefits of being outside in nature. As an experienced training facilitator, he develops training programmes that excite and stimulate people to gain new knowledge and most importantly learn useful, practical skills that they can apply to their life or work. He has worked with a variety of organisations to offer bespoke training packages with strategically planned projects that address the specific needs of their audiences and ensure seamless and efficient advertising, booking and evaluation. Delivering worthwhile training, which makes a big difference, always remains at the heart of his work. Gordon will be a speaker for our third session – ‘Trees, woodlands and health in action’.

Ben Whittaker – Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Ben has a background as an occupational therapist in mental health settings with Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust. Ben joined the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in 2009, where he has led the Occupational Therapy, AHP and Green Walking programmes, and worked on the Green Ward competition and Sustainable Healthcare Education. Ben was the initial project lead for the World Federation of Occupational Therapists sustainability working group. In 2021 Ben became one of the first Chief Sustainability Officer’s Clinical Fellows at Greener NHS. Ben will be a speaker for our third session – ‘Trees, woodlands and health in action’.

Carole Longden – Forest of Hearts

Carole is the founder and facilitator of Forest of Hearts and jack of all trades, having a hand or taking a lead in all areas. With a vision of boosting biodiversity, improving people’s wellbeing and building skills and employability in our communities, Carole set about creating the charity to create change. To this end, she feels a great sense of accomplishment having built a team around her to get things done. For her, some highlights of Forest of Hearts so far include: nesting barn owls at their Field of Life; preserving and aiding a nesting location for swallows that have travelled 6000 miles; building ponds and meadows that will help swallows and other birds to nest and feed. Being able to experience the changing of the seasons and reconnect with nature is a privilege of the job for her. Carole will be a speaker for our third session – ‘Trees, woodlands and health in action’.

Tim Braund – Forestry England

Tim is the Active Forests Health and Community Officer at Forestry England supporting the development of social prescribing and nature-based healthcare interventions across the nation’s forests. He is currently involved with Feel Good in the Forest, a supportive programme of activities for people with mild-to-moderate health conditions, or who are looking to improve their health and wellbeing, to meet new people and enjoy being outdoors.  Tim will be a speaker for our third session – ‘Trees, woodlands and health in action’.

Nick White profile

Nick White – Centre for Sustainable Healthcare

Nick has over 25 years’ experience in countryside management and community engagement. He’s worked at both a strategic and operational level, leading nature conservation and community engagement projects across urban parks, hospital grounds, countryside sites and woodlands, including two SSI Nature Reserves.  He joined the Centre for Sustainable Healthcare in September 2022 and is responsible for delivering a programme of work which helps improves biodiversity and the health and well-being of staff and patients across Liverpool Royal University Hospitals three main sites at Aintree, Broadgreen and in the city centre. Nick will be a speaker for our third session – ‘Trees, woodlands and health in action’.

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