Here’s a round up of evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items. This supports the Strategic Research Network for Learning in Natural Environments and Outdoors for All to develop better coherence and collaboration in research and to improve links between research, policy and practice in these areas:
Nature Experiences and Adults’ Self-reported Pro-environmental Behaviors: The Role of Connectedness to Nature and Childhood Nature Experiences
CD Rosa, C Profice, S Collado – Frontiers in Psychology
This cross-sectional study aims to improve our understanding of the psychological pathways behind the commonly reported link between experiences in nature and pro-environmentalism. Particularly, we explore whether nature experiences lead to self-reported pro-environmental behaviors (PEBs) and whether this relation is mediated by connectedness to nature. According to our findings, greater contact with nature during childhood is associated with greater contact with nature as an adult, which, in turn, is positively associated with connectedness to nature and PEB. The stimulation of pleasant experiences while in direct contact with nature during childhood seems to trigger interactions with nature in adulthood and consequently, adults embrace pro-environmental actions.
Fostering children’s connection to nature through authentic situations: The case of saving salamanders at school
S Barthel, S Belton, M Giusti, CM Raymond – Frontiers in Psychology
The aim of this paper is to explore how children learn to form new relationships with nature. The qualitative data suggest that whole situations of sufficient unpredictability triggering free exploration of the area, direct sensory contact and significant experiences of interacting with a species were important for children’s development of affective relationships with the salamander species and with nature in an open-ended sense.
Forest School and the Pathways to Nature Connection
D Cudworth – Presentation at Nature Connections conference 2018
A concept linked to the philosophy of Forest Schooling is that of Nature Connection. Nature Connection has been linked to a range of wellbeing, health and pro-environmental outcomes. Recent work has suggested 5 pathways: contact, emotion, meaning, compassion, and beauty, all of which are important for the formation of nature connection. In line with the five pathways associated with Nature Connection we argue in this presentation that the development of an appreciation of the natural environment via Forest School sessions can lead to health and well-being benefits of children, and possibly begin to develop their pro-environmental behaviours.
“We Are All Nature”—Young Children’s Statements About Nature
BO Hallås, MP Heggen – Chapter in Ecocritical Perspectives on Children’s Texts and Cultures
Children’s understanding of the relationship between humans and the rest of nature is important. Meeting young children in natural landscapes, Hallås and Heggen in this chapter carried out dialogue-based interviews focusing on children’s relationship with the area, and their general concepts of nature. Analysing the children’s statements with the aid of the NatCul Matrix, their statements were found to be distributed between anthropocentric, ecocentric, celebrating and problematizing views. In contrast to earlier research, children aged five to seven years show ecocentric understandings of the relationships between humans and nature. Implications for further research are highlighted at the end of the chapter.
Children and Nature: Linking Accessibility of Natural Environments and Children’s Health-Related Quality of Life
S Tillmann et al- International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
The purpose of this study was to examine individual-level and environmental factors that are associated with HRQOL of children from different geographical contexts. In addition to important individual-level determinants, the findings revealed that characteristics of the natural environment, including the amount of greenness, park, and water, show significant relationships in the urban/suburban population. Interpersonal variables were the key predictors of HRQOL in the rural population. Where children live influences relationships between nature and HRQOL.
A pilot study: Horticulture-related activities significantly reduce stress and salivary cortisol concentration of maladjusted elementary school children.
Lee et al – Complimentary Therapies in Medicine
This experimental study explored the stress-reducing eﬀects of three horticulture-related activities (HRAs) on Korean elementary children identified as having emotional and/or behavioral problems. Results showed a significant decrease in stress indicators for the 10 children in the experimental group, but not for the 10 in the control group. Different HRAs had different stress-reducing effects.
Urban green space and its impact on human health
Kondo et al – International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
This review of the literature evaluated 40 years of research on the association between urban green space and human health. Greater urban green space exposure was consistently related to decreased mortality, heart rate, and violence, as well as increased and/or improved attention, mood, and physical activity.
Mental Health & Resiliency: Designing Participatory Nature Dependent Environments and Communities for a Sustainable Future
J Beam, NO Nawari, B Tilson – Journal of Sustainable Development
This research explores the possibility of combining densely populated design approaches with ancient community planning methods that encourage relationship building: close contact with natural environments and social interchange. To explore these areas, mental health research on the effects of nature on the brain, as well as the three leading determinants of social, environmental and economic well-being, worldwide, and the founding cultures of these determinants were reviewed. The paper provides recommendations for improving mental health and resilience by integrating strategies for nature and community needs in urban planning and built environments design.…
Outdoor Psychomotor Activities: Bringing Children to Nature
D Klein, S Türk, R Roth – Advances in Physical Education
Children today spend less time being active in nature. Sedentary behavior may lead to severe health problems, whereas positive effects of physical activity are well proven. Physical activity outdoors seems to result in additional positive effects. Therefore, it may be regarded as a public health issue to bring children back to nature and encourage them to be physically active in this setting. This article discusses how the child-centered approach of psychomotricity can be transferred to natural surroundings. Central to this approach is the experience of self-efficacy. Outdoor environments offer numerous starting points to implement psychomotor sessions; practical options are exemplified below.
Individual impacts and resilience
TJ Doherty – Chapter in Psychology and Climate Change
This chapter provides an overview of the individual psychological impacts of climate change in their direct, indirect, and vicarious forms. The role of cultural values and ideals of social and environment justice are highlighted as these provide the lenses through which many people around the world understand how climate change affects them. A distinction is made between climate effects on mental health, such as trauma in the wake of disasters, and effects on psychological flourishing as the burden of climate change jeopardizes people’s ability to enjoy positive emotions and trust in the future. Healthy coping responses to climate change range along a spectrum from the bare survival of individuals and communities to optimum health and thriving in the context of one’s culture and values.
Availability, use of, and satisfaction with green space, and children’s mental wellbeing at age 4 years in a multicultural, deprived, urban area: results from the Born in Bradford cohort study.
McEachan et al – The Lancet Planetary Health
The study suggests positive effects of green space on wellbeing differ by ethnicity. Satisfaction with the quality of green space appears to be a more important predictor of wellbeing than does quantity of green space. Public health professionals and urban planners need to focus on both quality and quantity of urban green spaces to promote health, particularly among ethnic minority groups.
Do green neighbourhoods promote urban health justice?
Anguelovski et al – The Lancet Public Health
For the past 30 years, a search for social and health justice has shaped many cities in North America and Europe. Residents of cities have mobilised to address the effects of neighbourhood disinvestment, pollution, harmful land uses, and low-quality green spaces on health and movements have transformed neighbourhoods. However, while green amenities are important selling points for attracting high-income populations, the resulting increased property values shape a new conundrum, embodied in the exclusion and displacement associated with so-called green gentrification.