People who do something ‘wild’ every day for a month change their attitude to nature and report improvements in their physical and mental wellbeing, according to new research which places nature connection at the heart of a happy and healthy life.
An impact study, by the University of Derby, of 30 Days Wild – the UK’s first ever month-long nature challenge, run by The Wildlife Trusts in June 2015 – reveals sustained increases in participants’ happiness, health, connection to nature and positive environmental behaviours, such as feeding the birds or growing flowers for pollinators like bees.
Dr Miles Richardson, Head of Psychology at the University of Derby, conducted the study. He says: “Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, the number of people reporting their health as excellent increased by over 30%. And that improvement in health was influenced by the improvements in happiness and connection with nature.
“The impact of 30 Days Wild adds to the compelling argument for bringing nature into our everyday lives. Our grand challenges, such as health and declining biodiversity, require large-scale interventions and the evaluation of 30 Days Wild provides good evidence that time in, and a connection with nature can bring sustained benefits to public health, reducing demands on our health services, while also improving pro-nature behaviours. Even in urban areas, nature can provide a simple solution to complex problems.”
More than 18,500 people took part in The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild challenge, committing around 300,000 Random Acts of Wildness – different ways to connect with, experience and take action for nature – throughout June 2015.
Jacky Watson, Marske resident who took part in the campaign said” I really enjoyed taking part and am going to do it again this year. I did a few “big” things, like joining in with organised wildflower walks, and lots of little things such as bee-spotting at the bus stop. 30 Days Wild made sure I left my desk at lunchtime to get outside, or took 20 minutes in the evening to wander around the garden with my camera. Taking the photo everyday was a really important part of it and looking back at the pictures now makes me smile”
Lucy McRobert, The Wildlife Trusts’ Nature Matters campaigns manager, said: “Last year, thousands of people undertook Random Acts of Wildness everywhere, from the centre of London to the Outer Hebrides. People let their lawns grow wild, adults danced in the rain and made nature cocktails while families created wild works of art, went star-gazing and created homes for wildlife in their gardens. Even people at work found time for wildlife, by taking meetings outside in the sun and transforming work spaces into wildlife habitats.
“The results of our study show that taking part in 30 Days Wild makes people happier, healthier and more connected to nature in the long-term.
“Importantly it also showed that by looking out for nature on a regular basis people became more likely to care about and protect it – and that’s what we’re all about. We’re here to inspire everyone again – every day throughout June. Whatever their age, wherever they live, we want everyone to feel they can take part and join thousands of others making nature part of their life.”
30 Days Wild returns in 2016, with The Wildlife Trusts asking everyone do something wild every day from 1 – 30 June. Whether you take time out to simply smell a wildflower, listen to birdsong, explore a local wild place or leave a part of your garden to grow wild for a month. This year, the conservation organisation aims to inspire people to carry out one million Random Acts of Wildness, listing 101 fun and intriguing ideas online to get you started. It’s all about making nature part of your life for 30 days – and it’s free. Sign up from Wednesday 6 April 2016 at www.wildlifetrusts.org/30DaysWild. Share your 30 Days Wild with us on twitter, Instagram and facebook using #30DaysWild