Supporting a GCSE in Natural History

Recently there have been calls for a petition for a GCSE in Natural History, and today an alert for new research that informs and supports this proposal arrived in my inbox. The paper in Education Sciences explores how connection with nature and scientific knowledge influence pro environmental behaviour – ultimately an essential reason for a GCSE in Natural History.

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Nature: The Ultimate Network?

Today I attended a workshop at Defra about connecting people with the environment. The questions for the day were broadly who to target? The barriers and challenges? What works? How to scale up? A cultural change is required within a generation and towards the end of the day our table focussed on young adults; our research suggests they are more disconnected from nature than older generations. Further justification is that this group are likely to be influencing future generations; their children. This group is often termed Millennials. Continue reading

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3 Good Things in Nature – A simple way to improve connection with nature

A strong connection with nature lies at the heart of a healthy life and a healthy planet – but how do we increase people’s nature connection? That is my research focus and such increases need to be sustained and achieved as part of our everyday lives. The good news is that our recent paper shows how simply noting ‘3 good things in nature’ each day for a week leads to longer term increases in nature connection.

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How Nature Regulates Emotions and the Heart for Wellbeing

There is plenty of evidence that nature is good for us, but how does being in nature impact on our emotions, body and wellbeing? Our latest paper, just published open access in Evolutionary Psychological Science, presents a model and supporting evidence to show that nature regulates emotions and the heart. This brings balance to our feelings and the nervous system that controls the function of our body, and organs such as the heart. Balance of emotions brings wellbeing, and regulation of heart rhythms helps heart health. This is the story of how nature helps keep us well.

To explain the benefits of nature we need to understand our emotions and their underlying physiology. A simple way to do this is to represent these systems with 3 circles – represented here by a falcon, ash tree and wild boar warning!

Full Model

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Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature

Nature Connection has kept me really busy over recent months, the growing interest is great, but I’m understanding the restorative effects of nature more and more! So far in 2016 i’ve written, and had accepted, five research papers and the Nature Connections 2016 conference took place last month – see the story here. Next up is one project that’s going to keep me (and several others) busy for the next 3 years. IWUN: Improving Wellbeing through Urban Nature has been awarded £1.3 million from the Natural Environment Research Council – part of the human health and wellbeing goal of the Valuing Nature programme. Although we know that spending time in with nature is good for people, the project will investigate the dose and which particular features of green space boost people’s health and personal enjoyment.

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The Nature of Smartphones Users

Technology is often cited as a reason for our disconnection from the natural world, but there’s not a great deal of research in this area. Recently smartphone technology has become common and a colleague (Dr Zaheer Hussain) and I have just completed a study looking at phone use and connection with nature.

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30 Days Wild: How Connection to Nature Brings Happiness and Health

Last year we evaluated the impact of 30 Days Wild for The Wildlife Trusts. The results were excellent and the resulting journal paper has just been published – so you can read the full 5000 words here. This blog is a short summary, but focussing on an exciting aspect of the results which is only a small part of the article.

PLOS

Evaluation of 30 Days Wild Published in PLOS: ONE

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