Nature Connectedness

Nature Connectedness

By Alpkit Foundation

The challenge – a failing relationship with nature.

There’s no wellbeing without nature’s wellbeing. Everyone is at risk from the loss of habitats and a warming planet. The climate crisis and wildlife emergency show that the existing relationship between people and the rest of nature is breaking down. It has become disconnected and narrow. Too often we see nature as something to use, control or as a threat to us. To fix this we need a new relationship with nature and doing so can also help tackle the crisis in our mental health and wellbeing. To achieve that, people everywhere need to feel that nature matters to them.

The Nature Connectedness Research Group at the University of Derby is leading the development of ground-breaking evidence that explains what nature connectedness is, how it can be measured, its benefits for human and environmental wellbeing – and, importantly, how it can be improved.

Many of us instinctively know how much of a difference just being able to step outside and enjoy nature has on our mood and wellbeing, it’s why we love doing what we do. With a little added support from the Alpkit Foundation towards research being conducted by Miles Richardson and his students, we can help highlight the benefits across wider society and so not just overcoming practical obstacles, but also an obstacle of attitudes.

Miles is Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness at the University of Derby where he leads the Nature Connectedness Research Group (NCxRG). You may have seen is article in our recent Outpost magazine on Five routes to finding nature.

“Here at the College of Health, Psychology and Social Care and the School of Psychology within that, we offer an MSc Psychology on which several students do projects in the area of nature connectedness –people’s psychological relationship with nature. We also have PhD students in this area too.”

With these changing environmental conditions, as well as the more immediate impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on our access and relationship to the outdoors, we are excited to be helping support the work that’s happening within the college and research into understanding and improving our connection with nature and the associated well-being and environmental benefits. To achieve this we have has set aside a fund that will allow MSc and PhD students to apply for small grants to help with project costs.

Here are examples of projects that some Masters students have just starting out on:

• Wellbeing and love of nature benefits of wild swimming compared to walking.
• Exploring how watching birds close to home can improve wellbeing and be used within well-being intervention
• Whether love of nature helps with anxiety and PTSD impact of Covid-19

Miles explains a little about the aims behind the Nature Connectedness Research Group and how the Alpkit Foundation is supporting this.

“The NCxRG aims to understand people’s sense of their relationship with the natural world. We create everyday interventions in order to improve this relationship for the wellbeing of humans and nature. Our research is good for nature and it is good for you. The Alpkit fund will enable this much needed research and allow students to get involved. Within research happening there are new and exciting areas and proof of concept studies, but there’s potential to move to clinical trials in the longer term."

You can find more information on the NCxRG web page and by following Miles’ blog.

We are certainly excited to follow progress on any projects that we support and to be able to share any findings and impact that these make.


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