Disconnection from nature is considered one of the major problems facing nature conservation. The term ‘connection to nature’ is frequently used to describe our attitude towards nature, our emotional relationship along with our knowledge and behaviour.
Research suggests that people with a greater connection to nature are more likely to behave positively towards the environment, wildlife and habitats. Developing an emotional relationship between people and nature, connecting people, may be critical for future nature conservation.
There is also increasing evidence of a positive relationship between a person’s connection to nature and their health and wellbeing. Experiencing nature is thought to provide health and wellbeing benefits. This is a potential ecosystem service that could start a positive feedback loop between health, wellbeing and connection to nature that leads to benefits for biodiversity conservation.
The health and wellbeing benefits of experiencing nature may be especially important to those suffering from ill health, such as dementia. Activities which assist people with dementia to engage with nature may be tools for improving their health, wellbeing and connection to nature, not only for the individual but for their carers, friends and families.
However, there are many unanswered questions about how to initiate and develop a connection to nature: what activities work, who they work for, why they work and what type of connection to nature leads to positive behaviour change. RSPB is working in collaboration with teams around the UK to try and shed some light on these questions and further the understanding of connection with the aim of increasing success of conservation action.