The Wildlife Trusts have found that connecting with nature on a daily basis can continue to give people benefits, even after that connection has ended.
Each year, the nature charity runs the 30 Days Wild campaign, which encourages people to make a connection with nature each day throughout June.
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.
Over a five-year period, survey responses from 1,105 participants were analysed by The Wildlife Trusts and the University of Derby to evaluate the benefits of having daily contact with nature.
They found that not only did participation significantly increase people’s health and wellbeing and heighten their sense of nature, but it also showed that these positive effects endured for at least 2 months after the challenge had ended.
Young red fox (Vulpes vulpes) perched on a log in front of a building, urban park, Bristol, winter. © Bertie Green, Vision 2020
Participants continued to experience benefits to their emotional wellbeing, and 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.
This year, with many people experiencing restrictions on their movements, The Wildlife Trusts have come up with ways for everyone to connect with nature right on their own doorsteps.
Willow warbler. © Ben Hall 2020 VISION
“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 during 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.
Find out more at The Wildlife Trusts 30 Days Wild and connect online using #30DaysWild.
Our friends at BBC Countryfile Magazine have put together 30 easy ways to bring more nature into your day