The warming climate and loss of wildlife show that our relationship with nature has been failing. However, during the restrictions to control the coronavirus pandemic people have turned to nature. This brings hope that people are ready for a new relationship with nature. During our work with the National Trust we’ve been thinking about, and actively building those new relationships with nature. A closer connection with nature that can boost the wellbeing of people and the wellbeing of the natural world we inhabit.
We want to share what we’ve learnt far and wide. So we’ve launched Nature and Me. A short guide with suggestions on how to get close to nature and the benefits this can bring. Nature and Me has two parts. Understanding the human-nature relationship and a guide to practically improving that relationship. It is based on research by the University of Derby’s Nature Connectedness Research Group and experiences at National Trust places. Please download a copy here.
Part one introduces the concept of nature connectedness, the level of an individual’s relationship with nature. A summary of some of the research findings is then introduced. How life feels good when people have a strong connection with nature. How it’s possible to feel close to nature in towns and cities. How people who feel more connectedness are more likely to protect nature. How teenagers fall out of love with nature, and most adults do not notice nature. The guide then introduces the five pathways to nature connection, a practical framework to inform the design of experiences in nature.
Part two shows that framework at work, using examples form National Trust places to explain how to rethink the approach to nature engagement. How that shifted from what people understand about a place, to the way people experience a place. This new mindset yielded powerful results. From the way places were managed, their habitats and views, to approaches to wellbeing that were more meaningful and mindful. The approach informed learning and education too, with remarkable results. The pathways helped in the celebration and sharing of nature conservation work and outdoor activities for children and adults.
We hope the guide is only the beginning. There are so many ways we can apply the five pathways to nature connection. Read the guide and imagine the results if we applied this thinking more broadly, in our schools, workplaces and cities to create a new relationship with nature for human and nature’s wellbeing.