Nature Conservation | go green and get active
The drive and sense of urgency to get going to conserve and protect our natural environment can be powerful motivator for volunteers. Participants engaging in coordinated nature conservation activities report multiple benefits – including personal, social and cultural ones as well as the more obvious environmental benefits. Such activities can give a great sense of satisfaction. Through often small local actions, people gain a perception that they are contributing to a larger movement. Even working just on smaller scale environmental improvements, there is nearly always and immediate visual impact of a job well done, whether it be litter picking, clearing overgrown vegetation, building a brash hedge or improving animal habitats.
Conserving Nature | supports wellbeing by its very nature
Having thriving natural landscapes and environments which support biodiversity and wildlife can help us to solve some of our immediate and now most urgent social problems.
Recent studies indicate that 60% of our UK species are in decline and our environment is under even more pressure than it has ever been before. We need greater commitment from government, organisations and individuals alike. Quite possibly our wellbeing depends on it – we need to change our perception of how we value the environment and each play our own part in nature’s recovery and to help it thrive.
Supporting nature’s recovery brings with it huge benefits for the human population, not least in terms of our health and wellbeing. With steady escalation of poor levels of physical activity, our inactive lifestyles are bringing about both obesity and mental health problems , which are impacting our state of wellbeing.
Having and sustaining high quality natural environments and accessible green spaces affords a much greater engagement with wildlife, which can itself have significant health benefits. There is an intrinsic link between what we do for nature and what it does for us. The wellbeing of one undoubtedly supports the wellbeing of the other.
Whilst certain measures like life expectancy and infant mortality in the UK are at their best ever, there are certain health statistics which are trending worse than ever – particularly amongst the poorest and most vulnerable within our society. Using green spaces and nature can be a very cost effective way to reverse these trends as part of the remedy and help us to create a much healthier society right across the board.
It is estimated that for every £1 spent on establishing health walk schemes in the UK, the NHS could save £7.18 in costs of treating conditions such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. If good access to quality green space was afforded to every household in England it is estimated that £2.1 billion would be saved in health care costs alone.
Accessibility to green space is extremely beneficial to psychological wellbeing too, reducing stress, and improving resilience against recurrence of stress and reducing conditions like anxiety and depression. It’s the quality of the green space that’s important, including richness in the presence of wildlife, which seems to be particularly important to emotional wellbeing. Residents living within easy reach of a high quality green space, flourishing with wildlife and supporting thriving habitats, are thought twice as likely to report good levels of psychological health compared to those living near low quality and poorly maintained green spaces.
So in summary neighbourhood greenness and access to high quality open spaces strongly correlates to both better mental and physical health and it makes financial sense to care for these spaces, so that they can care for us.
Volunteering | Silverdale Country Park
Friends with Human-Nature volunteer weekly every Thurday morning at Silverdale Country Park under the guidance of the Groundwork West Midlands Park Ranger. Working alongside their regular working party, we give our time to support the land management of the park for the benefit of the environment, the community – and to support our own wellbeing too!
The former colliery site is now a local haven for wildlife. Typical activities include conducting surveys on species diversity, building and managing fences to protect wildlife conservation areas, brash hedge laying, planting wild flowers – and we get a free brew and biscuits half way through! It’s a great opportunity to observe some wildlife, get some exercise and share knowledge too.