The Wildlife Trusts have found that connecting with nature doesn’t just make us feel good in the moment, but can continue to provide benefits in the long-run.
Teaming up with the University of Derby, The Wildlife Trusts evaluated the benefits of having daily contact with nature, analysing surveys from more than 1000 participants of the charity’s 30 Days Wild campaign over a 5-year period.
Each year, the UK’s biggest nature challenge, run by The Wildlife Trusts, encourages people to make a connection with nature each day throughout June.
Young red fox (Vulpes vulpes) perched on a log infront of a building, urban park, Bristol/ Credit: © Bertie Gregory – 2020VISION
After taking part in the challenge, participants were asked to rate their health, nature connectedness, happiness, and pro-nature behaviour before the challenge, at the beginning of July when the challenge had finished, and finally in September.
Results revealed that not only did participation significantly increase people’s health and wellbeing and heighten their sense of nature, it also showed that these positive effects endured beyond the life of the challenge for at least 2 months after it had ended.
Participants experienced continued benefits to their emotional wellbeing, and also to their physical health, with the health of participants boosted by an average of 30%.
Taking part also inspired significant increases in positive behaviour toward nature, suggesting strongly that people who feel connected to nature are more likely to protect it.
Although benefits were apparent across the board, those who received the greatest benefits were those who began the challenge with a relatively weak connection to nature. In these participants, survey data revealed that making a connection with nature every day made them significantly happier.
Red Admiral butterfly (Vanessa atalanta) feeding on Mexican orange blossom (Choisya ternata), Wiltshire garden, UK, April/Credit: © Nick Upton – 2020VISION
This year, with many people experiencing restrictions on their movements, The Wildlife Trusts have come up with ways for everyone to connect with nature doing the 30 Days Wild challenge, right on their own doorsteps.
“Our lives have been changed by coronavirus and this is giving people a reason to reflect on our relationship with nature, the way we live our lives and how we spend our free time,” commented Dom Higgins, Head of Health and Education at The Wildlife Trusts.
“Precious moments outside on a daily walk help us to relax and feel happier. Even watching wildlife from a window, or on a webcam, connects us to that sense of being a part of nature, not apart from it.”
30 Days Wild is open to everyone, with materials free to download to help people connect to nature every day throughout June.
This year, with many children learning from home, The Wildlife Trusts have also created additional homeschooling ideas, including activities such as designing a bird, and making a natural sounds map.
Sign up to the challenge for free and connect online using #30DaysWild.