The National Trust and University of Derby have published a new guide, entitled Nature & Me, which offers five ‘pathways’ to strengthen our connection with nature, and which the Trust is using as a basis for activities at some of its locations.
The pathways are based on the findings of academics at the University’s Nature Connectedness Research Group. The new guide explains the research and how the pathways framework has been used to design activities at National Trust locations to enhance people’s engagement with nature.
- Senses: actively engaging with nature through the senses, for example listening to birdsong or smelling flowers.
- Beauty: finding and appreciating beauty in the natural world and exploring it through poetry, music or art.
- Emotion: tuning into an emotional bond with nature, or reflecting on the positive feelings nature can inspire.
- Meaning: Exploring how nature brings meaning to life, for example celebrating the signs and cycles of nature.
- Compassion: looking after nature as you would look after yourself, taking actions that are good for nature.
Professor Richardson explained:
Our findings from large scale surveys of thousands of people show that a strong connection with nature is key for our sense of wellbeing. Our research projects have also shown that it is also possible to strengthen that connection, and improve mental wellbeing, in urban areas through simple activities such as watching clouds or hearing birdsong. While many of us may lose that connection during our lifetimes, such as during our teenage years, or see our time in nature as a purely functional activity, the research has also established that when people are encouraged to notice nature, they respond positively.