Campaign to Protect Rural England Standing up for your countryside

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Wellbeing and the countryside

Wellbeing and the countryside

Experts increasingly agree that a connection to nature is vital to the happiness and wellbeing of the nation. Proximity to open green spaces in urban areas has been shown to reduce stress levels, and one study by Mind, for example, found that a walk in nature led to 71% of participants feeling more positive, with 88% experiencing an overall boost in their mood.

England’s countryside can offer a wonderful experience of nature free to all, with stunning landscapes, tranquil spaces, and the opportunity to explore.

Research consistently shows us that using or having a connection with nature is good for us in many different ways. The living world can focus and restore our attention. It can help give us the space to ease our pain and allow us to heal. Unlike concrete, nature can re-invigorate children’s concentration and strength, and could even makes us more caring and generous towards each other.

With such an array of immeasurable benefits, why aren’t we all out there? Alongside rising rates of depression and anxiety, much of the UK population has become disconnected from nature.

Fewer than 1 in 10 children now play outside in wild spaces, and another study found that children were better at identifying Pokémon characters than what used to be well known British species like bluebells and badgers.

Knowing what we now know about the relationship between our countryside and wellbeing, this is a worrying thought. And it isn’t just children who are losing out on the nature’s inbuilt support system.

In England, people in the most deprived communities are 10 times less likely to live in the greenest areas, and provision of parks is lowest in less affluent urban areas.

A government report also found that minority ethnic communities, elderly people and those with disabilities have less access to green spaces.

It’s clear that we need to facilitate much greater access to our green spaces – so that the whole of society can benefit from the enriching sense of belonging and inspiration they can provide.

CPRE aims to embrace and promote nature’s role in supporting health and wellbeing. Clean air, open space, scenery, and tranquillity all factor as the top reasons adults visit green spaces.

Protecting these qualities in the countryside has always been at the heart of CPRE’s work; from championing the Green Belt (the ‘countryside next door’ for 30 million people in our cities) and our National Parks, to pioneering the mapping of tranquil areas and dark skies.

We believe a love of nature stems from childhood, so we need to make a societal effort to re-introduce our nation’s children to our countryside. Our response to the independent review of National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty called for visits to National Parks and AONBs to be embedded into the National Curriculum. We also suggest more outreach programmes for urban communities to access the countryside.

Considering the range of social and wellbeing benefits nature can provide, the sooner the importance of enabling access to the countryside is recognised, and the better to lift our mood all the year round.

Considering the range of social and wellbeing benefits nature can provide, the sooner the importance of enabling access to the countryside is recognised, the better to lift our mood all the year round.




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