Sunday, 26 July 2020

Nature up close and personal: a well-being experiment

Our colleagues at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology have been in touch to tell us about an exciting new research project developed to investigate the relationship between nature connectedness, citizen science and well-being, especially in the context of Covid-19. They are hoping that News & Views readers will take part in this project, which will help UKCEH make recommendations on the most effective ways to engage with nature for well-being.

Over to the UKCEH team to tell us more:

"During this period of lockdown and social isolation, many of us have learned (or re-discovered) the importance of engaging with nature to our happiness and well-being.
Maybe we are noticing nature more in gardens and parks, the countryside, or simply looking from our windows. Engaging with nature will remain valuable, even as lockdown restrictions are being eased. But what we don’t yet know, is how different types of nature activities affect us.

"To help answer this question the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (UKCEH), University of Derby and the British Science Association is asking members of the public to take part in a research project ‘Nature up close and personal’. This project will take place across six weeks and will determine what affect interacting and being aware of nature has on well-being.

"By joining in, you’ll be asked to take part in simple, nature-based activities, allowing you to experience nature up close and personal – spending 10 minutes or so each day, for five days over the course of one week. You will be asked a few short questions, to learn more about your experiences. Whether you’re a nature nerd or nature usually passes you by – this is for you".

Dr Michael Pocock, an Ecologist at the UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology, who is leading the project, hopes it will provide new evidence around the benefits of citizen science:

“Although there is already lots of evidence of the positive impact the natural environment has on our well-being, many of the studies have been on exposure or time spent in natural spaces, rather than how engaged with nature people are. We hope that through this new project, we will discover the impact of different types of nature-based activity on our well-being and connectedness with nature.”

“Hopefully, we will even be able to identify how different types of engagement with nature provide different impacts on the participants. We can then make evidence-based recommendations on how to develop activities to help mitigate the negative effects of social isolation. This is particularly relevant now with the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.”

"The ‘Nature up close and personal’ project runs for a duration of six weeks from 14th July 2020 until 25th August 2020. Participants can sign up at any point over the six-week period, then participate in their nature-based activities across one week. The participants will be divided into five groups, each doing a different nature-based activity – from noticing to recording nature.

"A private garden or access to masses of open space is not required – a local park, patch of weedy ground, or even a balcony is all that is needed. And with activities taking between 10-15 minutes a day, the project team hope that even the busiest of people will be able to easily join in.

"Together we can discover how our well-being is affected noticing nature up close and personal". 

Check out this short video about the project - you can also find it on the new BSBI YouTube channel on the Biological Recording playlist and then head over here to take part: www.ceh.ac.uk/natureupclose. "

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