News

New guide shows the pathways to a stronger connection with nature

28 April 2021

Research from the University of Derby has devised five ‘pathways’ which the National Trust is using to help people form a stronger connection with nature.

The pathways are based on the findings of academics at the University’s Nature Connectedness Research Group. The new guide, entitled ‘Nature & Me’, explains the research and how the pathways framework has been used to design activities at National Trust locations to enhance people’s engagement with nature.

Professor Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness at the University, said: “Our relationship with nature is critical at a time when we are trying to address climate change and the loss of wildlife, because a greater connection with nature inspires people to be more protective of it.

“The connection we form with nature does not depend on how much time we spend in the countryside. It is about a close attachment to nature, which benefits our mental wellbeing too.”

Booklet for Nature and Me programme pictured on a field of buttercups

The pathways are:

Professor Richardson explained: “Our findings from large scale surveys of thousands of people show that a strong connection with nature is key for our sense of wellbeing. Our research projects have also shown that it is also possible to strengthen that connection, and improve mental wellbeing, in urban areas through simple activities such as watching clouds or hearing birdsong.

“While many of us may lose that connection during our lifetimes, such as during our teenage years, or see our time in nature as a purely functional activity, the research has also established that when people are encouraged to notice nature, they respond positively.”

Our relationship with nature is critical at a time when we are trying to address climate change and the loss of wildlife, because a greater connection with nature inspires people to be more protective of it.

Miles Richardson
Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness, University of Derby

Penelope Chapple, Outdoors Experience Manager at the National Trust, said: “When Professor Richardson introduced our countryside teams to the ‘five pathways to nature connection’, some could immediately see how they could adapt experiences already on offer. Common to all of these experiences is a shift – from focussing on what we want people to understand about a place, to the way people experience a place. Already we’ve found the new mindset is yielding powerful results.”

As well as recommending the five pathways to a stronger connection with nature in the guide, the Trust identifies locations where activities as varied as yoga and outdoor singing can help build that relationship through activating the pathways.

It is the latest development in a successful collaboration between the research group at the University of Derby and the Trust, which has included the launch of the recent #BlossomWatch campaign.

For more information on those activities and the five pathways in ‘Nature & Me’, you can read the guide here.

Read Professor Richardson's latest blog, about 'Nature & Me'.

For more details of the work of the Nature Connectedness Research Group, visit the University of Derby website.

For further information contact the Corporate Communications team at pressoffice@derby.ac.uk or call 01332 593953.