People 'need connection with nature'

| 27th February 2020
The bottom line: post-Brexit, will our countryside be richer, or poorer, in wild-flower meadows like this one near Silsden in West Yorkshire, England? Photo: Steven Feather via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).
The bottom line: post-Brexit, will our countryside be richer, or poorer, in wild-flower meadows like this one near Silsden in West Yorkshire, England? Photo: Steven Feather via Flickr (CC BY-NC-SA).
A heartbreaking 62 percent of adults rarely listen to birdsong and 79 rarely smelled wild flowers.

Every bit of connection makes a difference.

More than seven in 10 children say they rarely or never watch clouds, butterflies and bees, the National Trust said as it launches a new campaign to boost connection with nature.

Polling for the trust by YouGov also revealed that more than six in 10 adults (62 percent) rarely or never listen to birdsong, and almost eight in 10 (79 percent) had rarely or never smelled wild flowers in the past year.

But people who do regularly notice and connect with nature are far more likely to act to help tackle the crisis facing wildlife, a study published by the National Trust with the University of Derby has found.


And being connected with nature, noticing natural phenomenon every day, is linked to higher well being, the research suggests.

The trust is launching a year of activity including a new week-by-week guide, as a "couch to 5k for nature", to help people reforge a connection with the natural world and take action to help halt wildlife declines.

Tips to connect better with nature include simple everyday things that can be fitted into a busy life, such as watching the sunrise, listening to birdsong and watching butterflies and bees, the trust said.

And it recommends activities including planting something to grow in the garden, sketching a flower or animal or building a hedgehog home.

The campaign will also include billboards advertising the first day of spring, events celebrating the dawn, and a "blossom watch" scheme.


The research found widespread concern for declines in nature among both adults and children, aged between eight and 15, who were surveyed as part of the study.

More than half of adults (52%) said they had witnessed declines in the natural world in their lifetime.

Professor Miles Richardson, from the University of Derby, said: "This report for the first time demonstrates that simple everyday acts of noticing nature that build a closer connection are key to people taking action for nature.

"In our analysis, we discovered that the kind of connection that makes the difference involves more than simply spending time outdoors - instead it's about actively tuning in to nature, regularly spending simple, bite-size moments relating to nature around you.

"Every bit of connection makes a difference. If we're to tackle the nature crisis, then a closer connection and new relationship with nature is needed across the majority of the population."


Andy Beer, from the National Trust, said: "With the current nature crisis, people may feel powerless in the face of the daunting task of helping halt its decline.

"But evidence shows that small, everyday interventions in people's lives can lead to real meaningful change that could add up to make a huge difference.

"Daily doses of nature are vital to making this connection. The fantastic thing about it is that it's not hard for people to do.

"Whether it's on the way to school or work, on a day out with family or friends or simply spending time at home - there are many ways we can all take time to actively experience nature."

This Author

Emily Beament is the PA environment correspondent.


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