Looking ahead to Nature Connections 2019

Our 5th Interdisciplinary Conference, Nature Connections 2019 takes place Tuesday 2 July 2019 at the University of Derby and the NCx2019 Draft Programme is now available. Thirty talks and a range of posters will share the latest projects involved with engaging people with nature and present research evidence on the links between nature connectedness, well-being and pro-nature behaviours. These will include important findings from a large scale population survey and a world first for pro-nature conservation behaviours! Key themes will include:

  • Nature connection in practice
  • Lifespan and Children’s Connection
  • Connecting with Nature through Art
  • Mental health and well-being
  • Tools and Policy

Our keynotes speakers are Dame Fiona Reynolds DBE and Marian Spain, Interim Chief Executive of Natural England. We then move into a couple of key talks, the first sharing results from a large scale national survey which shows how nature contact and nature connectedness differ, but work together to bring health, wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviours.

Given the positive news about the benefits of nature connectedness we’ll move onto the next step, improving people nature connection with a talk from the National Trust about applying the University of Derby’s pathways to nature connectedness. This will show how nature-based activities can be designed and delivered to improve nature connection for different types of people, in different types of spaces, and in different contexts.

The draft programme is subject to change, but at present the first of two parallel sessions will consider a key emerging topic, nature connection through the arts. From nature-based art interventions for engaging the public to how drawing can improve nature connectedness. This session will also include the role of technology and of museums in nature connectedness and living and ageing well before travelling the linescapes of Britain with Hugh Warwick.

The second parallel session will consider nature connectedness in children and across the lifespan. It opens with more detail from the Nature Connection Index project, including the dramatic  ‘teenage dip’ in nature connectedness. A topic expanded on by the RSPB’s Joelene Hughes and co-authors. We’ll then hear from a large scale evaluation of a green space educational programme and how nature connection and wellbeing can be delivered to children in an urban environment. This will be complemented by an extended framework for practitioners before closing by considering how age and gender affect nature connections and pro-environmental behaviours of urban youth.

One session will cover tools delegates may find of use and a world first! A new scale to measure pro-nature conservation behaviours – amazingly all existing scales look at carbon footprint focussed pro-environmental behaviours, so a great addition as the scale of biodiversity loss becomes more apparent. They’ll also be Greenkeeper – an online toolkit for valuing the multiple benefits of urban green spaces and more on standardising images for nature related research. The RSPB will also share their work on ENACT, a tool for evaluating nature activities for connection.

After the lunchtime poster session, one parallel session will consider young people’s engagement with a semi-wild, disused space and an ethnographic study of a fast-track nature reconnection practice. Prof. Helen Lomax then considers farmers and families connections to landscapes. Finally, there are talks on rewilding people and places, and how nature work develops interconnectedness, compassion, cooperation, and responsibility.

The second parallel session covers mental health and well-being. Delegates will hear how the nature connectedness intervention of noticing the good things in nature can improve wellbeing and mood in people recovering from depression and anxiety. Potential mechanisms for those benefits, namely managing our moods, will then be considered. Dr Rachel Bragg will talk about the growing care farming project – nature connection and green care in policy. We then move onto mindfulness and whether the natural environment enhances its effectiveness for stress reduction. Finally, the relationship between psychopathic traits and nature connectedness will be introduced.

The final parallel session covers the value of NHS green space for workplace wellbeing and nature connection, mental health, and environmental sustainability mind-sets in West Wales. Prof Marcus Grace will introduce the “wonder of nature” project which blended cognitive and emotional approaches to engagement before a post-qualitative narrative of (co) emergence.

As ever, it’s a full and fast moving programme, with plenty of breaks and opportunities to catch-up with speakers and other delegates. If you want to know what nature connectedness matters and how to improve it, book a place at Nature Connections 2019!


About Miles

Professor of Human Factors & Nature Connectedness - improving connection to (the rest of) nature to unite human & nature’s wellbeing.
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