Each year for the past 5 years we’ve been evaluating the impact of 30 Days Wild for The Wildlife Trusts. The impact of 30 Days Wild is confirmed each year with peer reviewed research papers published for each of the first 3 years (see below for details). We’ve now combined data from 1105 people who’ve taken part since 2015 in a 5 Year Review.
Back in 2015, the 30 Days Wild campaign set out to encourage people to value nature more highly in their own life, with an emphasis on commonplace and accessible nature experiences – every day of June. These experiences, or Random Acts of Wildness, developed alongside the University of Derby, range from simple activities such as walking barefoot on grass or following a bumblebee, to activities which involve more time, such as building an insect hotel. In the first year 12,400 people signed up, but it’s grown each year with 400,000 taking part in 2019. A total of 1,000,000 people have taken part over the 5 years. Each year a sample of those taking part completed the evaluation beforehand, early in July and then again in September.
We’ve consistently found people taking part had sustained increases in happiness, health, connection to nature and pro-nature behaviours. So, it’s no surprise that the results over five years show that taking part in 30 Days Wild brings sustained increases to nature connectedness, health, happiness and pro-nature conservation behaviours. However, the combined data from over 1000 people provides a better indication of the levels of the significant increases. Overall we found sustained increases in nature connectedness of 17%, self-reported health of 29%, happiness of 8% and pro-nature conservation behaviours of 7%.
However, those overall figures hide an important story. Many people who take part in 30 Days Wild are already highly connected to nature. The combined data over 5 years allowed us to look at the increases for those who started with a lower level of nature connectedness – a mean of 38 compared to the overall mean of 58. For these people sustained increases in nature connectedness were a mighty 56% – indeed on average those starting with higher levels didn’t see an increase in connection. For the less connected, there were also higher increases in health 19%, happiness 13% and pro-nature conservation behaviours 11%. This shows two key things. First, the impact of simple engagement with nature everyday for a month. Second, the benefit of reaching out and attracting those not so close to nature.
Interestingly, the greatest increases in health were found in those who started 30 Days Wild with the higher levels of nature connectedness. In earlier analysis we found there was a link between the improvement in happiness and health, a relationship facilitated by increases in nature connectedness. It could be that people with higher nature connectedness are closer to feeling and reporting greater health benefits. We know that nature connectedness is related to both feeling good (happiness, which feeds into health) and functioning well – that is dealing with life’s challenges which can also translate through to health. Further, we also know that time in nature, that could well increase during 30 Days Wild (and the summer particularly for those closely connected to nature), is related to health benefits more so than nature connectedness. So the increase in health for the more connected could simply reflect an increase in time spent in nature.
The climate crisis and wildlife emergency show that the relationship between people and the rest of nature is failing. 30 Days Wild shows that through engaging people with simple activities in nature that relationship can be improved – especially for the less connected. With that improved relationship bringing wellbeing and pro-nature behaviours. Through a new relationship with nature people can live a happier, more worthwhile and sustainable life.
Peer-reviewed papers previously published about 30 Days Wild:
Richardson, M. McEwan, K., & Garip, G. (2018). 30 Days Wild: Who benefits most? Journal of Public Mental Health, 17(3), 95-104. Online here.
Richardson, M. & McEwan, K. (2018). 30 Days Wild and the relationships between engagement with nature’s beauty, nature connectedness and well-being. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:1500. Doi: 10.3389/ fpsyg.2018.01500. Online here.
Richardson, M., Cormack, A., McRobert, L., and Underhill, R. (2016). 30 Days Wild: development and evaluation of a large-scale nature engagement campaign to improve well-being. PLos ONE 11(2):e0149777. Doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0149777. Online here.