Connection with Nature
Research into the positive benefits 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)
Eight Common Measures
Parks and trail corridors have been important for public health in the United States for more than 100 years. The provision of urban parks for general public use became common in the mid-1800s. During that period, New York City’s Central Park was promoted as a way of providing access to healthy outdoor space for the city’s growing population.
Fredrick Law Olmsted, the superintendent of Central Park in 1857, put forth the idea “That great public parks, such as his proposed Greensward, would function as the ‘lungs of the city’—green open spaces where city dwellers could breathe in clean air” (Fisher 2010). Dr. John Henry Rauch (1828–94), who served as the Chicago sanitary superintendent after the Civil War, successfully advocated land use policies favoring the establishment of large urban parks (Frumkin, Frank, and Jackson 2004).
Since that time governments across the country, and at every level, have provided parks to protect the health, safety, and welfare of their residents.
As life becomes busier, we’re realising how important it is to protect our mental health and wellbeing.
The Five Ways to Wellbeing are an easy way to improve mental wellbeing no matter where you are or what time it is and in a way that suits you. Nature is the ideal place to practice the Five Ways to Wellbeing. Evidence from across the world is showing that spending time in nature makes us feel healthier, happier and more optimistic.
Local park and recreation agencies provide health and wellness opportunities for all populations in communities across the country. As America continues to face serious health issues parks and recreation offer an affordable and accessible solution.
For Exercise, Nothing Like the Great Outdoors
Long walks can improve moods and reduce anxiety, but the benefits may be greatest if the walks take place outdoors rather than in a gym, according to a new study by researchers in Austria. And while the Alps may be a particularly fine place to hike, a vigorous walk in the woods or paths near home may provide the mental boost we need to keep us moving … Read More
While from the UK , this video outlines the findings of a literature review undertaken for the Sport and Recreation Alliance (UK) investigating the health benefits of outdoor recreation and the potential role outdoor activities can play in addressing physical and mental health inequalities, so is very relevant to the situation in Queensland.
The research was undertaken by a research team from Manchester Metropolitan University Business School led by Dr Chris Mackintosh and researchers Dr Elesa Zehndorfer and Dr Natalie Darko.
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 …
You don’t have to climb a mountain for a “peak experience” in nature to be life-changing
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
6 -11 READ MORE
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.