Connection with Nature
Research into the positive effects a connection with nature has on an individuals’ health, wellbeing and development.
What does “connection to nature” mean?
In its broadest sense, “connection to nature” describes the mix of feelings and attitudes that people have towards nature. You might also call it “loving nature”, having a “sense of awe and wonder” or simply “caring for the environment”. (RSPB UK)
Part of urban planning has traditionally involved the inclusion of parks and open space. This is valuable for providing space for recreation, as well as improving the visual appeal of any area & fulfilling other pragmatic intentions – e.g. reducing water run-off, filtering the air, mitigating heat build-up from hard surfaces, enabling community and/or wildlife ‘corridors’ …
finding out how connected to nature the UK’s children are
When young people are connected to nature, it has positive impacts on their education, physical health, emotional wellbeing, and personal and social skills, and helps them to become responsible citizens.
“Childhood is a time of rapid physical, mental and emotional development. Time spent in nature provides a diversity of sounds, sights, smells and textures, and a variety of plants, animals and landscapes that children can engage with. This mental and sensory stimulation is important in human developmental processes.”
Planet Ark and Toyota Australia have commissioned research for the last four years on the implications of contact with nature on an individuals’ health, wellbeing and development. Research shows that time in nature helps us thrive as individuals – physically, intellectually, emotionally, mentally, and ethically. The results present a compelling business case regarding the value of nature and the multitude of benefits associated with green time including enhanced learning, concentration, healing, relaxation and recovery, to name a few.
Download Key Research Findings
Needing Trees: The Nature of Happiness (1mb pdf)
Investigates how contact with nature affects people’s life-long happiness and the physiological impacts it has on the brain.
Valuing Trees: What is Nature Worth? (1mb pdf)
Highlights the financial, health and well-being, social, and environmental benefits of nature at home, in the workplace, and at school.
Missing Trees: The Inside Story of an Outdoor Nation (1.34mb pdf)
Reveals shrinking backyards, screen time and long working hours have concerning implications for Australia’s renowned outdoor way of life and our health.
Planting Trees: Just What the Doctor Ordered
Focuses on the benefits of interaction with nature for children’s health, wellbeing and development.
Climbing Trees: Getting Aussie Kids Back Outside
Shows a dramatic and worrying shift in childhood activity in Australia from outdoor play to indoor activity in the space of one generation
So How Can National Tree Day Help?
As Australia’s largest community tree planting and nature care event National Tree Day is a great way to get outside and connect with nature. It’s a memorable day out for families, giving them the opportunity to do something positive for their health and wellbeing, as well as the health of the environment.
With thousands of sites at schools, parks, gardens and other locations across the country, National Tree Day and Schools Tree Day are the perfect first steps to getting Aussie children and families to connect with nature.
Discover a range of outdoor activities that parents and caregivers can integrate into a regular routine for their children.
Browse, learn and share current and emerging findings that can help make a solid case based on the research to policy-makers, school boards, community groups, health providers, urban planners and others that can influence the systems to connect children, families and communities to nature.
Principal Researchers: Professor Mardie Townsend, Ms Rona Weerasuriya
The effects of living in a “green” environment cannot be underestimated … Since the early 1980s, environmental psychologists have studied the health effects of contact with nature and concluded that humans depend on nature not simply for material requirements – such as water, food and shelter – but also for emotional, psychological and spiritual needs. The range of psychological benefits for people who visit green, open spaces is vast and includes improved mood, lower levels of anxiety, lower stress levels, lower levels of depression and increased physical activity …
Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to your mental and physical well-being. Here are just a few potential benefits:
1. Improved short-term memory
2. Restored mental energy
3. Stress relief
4. Reduced inflammation
5. Better vision
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Ecotherapy encompasses a wide variety of interventions, whether they be prolonged periods in wilderness, gardening or individual therapy. They are all united by the concept that exposure to nature will improve wellbeing and healthy living …
Most people believe that the outdoors is good for us. Now a raft of research proves that time out in nature is essential to our physical, psychological health and wellbeing…
…Whether you’re playing in a park with your children or getting lost alone in the forest, here’s 10 reasons why time outdoors is time well spent.