The RSPB is developing its research into people’s connection to nature as studies suggest that people with a greater connection to nature are more likely to behave positively towards the environment, wildlife and habitats.
The concept of green exercise – physical activity in nature environments – was first coined at Essex more than 15 years ago, boosting global interest in maximising uses of nature to improve mental wellbeing.
“Our research at Essex has shown clearly that actively engaging with nature can benefit wellbeing, and we have worked with a number of national charities on environmental projects which have improved the mental health of participants,” explained green exercise expert Dr Mike Rogerson, from the Essex School of Sport, Rehabilitation and Exercise Sciences. “With the mental health of today’s teenagers regularly making the headlines it is interesting that our research showed the age group least connected to nature was 15-16-year-olds.”
Dr Joelene Hughes, from the RSPB Centre for Conservation Science, said: “This detailed investigation of connection and age has raised a lot of interesting questions about what personal, social and environmental factors affect people’s connection to nature, plus how conservation interventions can be more effective in developing people’s connection to nature at different ages.
“Our collaboration the University of Essex is an exciting and interesting line of research that I hope will continue well into the future, reaping more rewards for conservation.”