When I used to run nature connection workshops back in 2010, it was a struggle to get people to sign up. It seemed that people didn’t get what nature connection was or why they might want more of it. But times have changed and according to The Huffington Post, “Nature Connection Will Be the Next Big Human Trend”!
What happened? Research is part of the answer. The Nature Connectedness Research Group at Derby University have done a lot over the last few years and Miles Richardson, the project coordinator, has a great research blog.
The RSBP are also on the case, having realized that “disconnection from nature is … one of the major problems facing nature conservation”. Deep Ecology got it right; once you recognize your connection with nature, you’ll be actively engaged in protecting it. The health benefits are also very apparent now, with new research consistently demonstrating that connecting to nature is good for you.
Elizabeth Nisbet from Trent University in Ontario, has developed a Nature Relatedness questionnaire. If your level of nature relatedness it isn’t already obvious, you might like to try it. Crucially, Nisbet emphasizes that Nature Relatedness isn’t just a romanticized idealization of nature; it’s “an understanding of the importance of all aspects of nature, even those that are not aesthetically appealing or useful to humans, such as mosquitoes, mice, death, and decay”.
Maybe the suggestion that nature connection can improve you health and help save the planet isn’t enough to convince you? Well, research Nisbet conducted with her colleague John Zelenski suggests that nature relatedness may also lead to greater happiness (Zelenski and Nisbet, 2012).
Research has helped increase awareness of nature connection, but people have also begun to feel the need for it themselves. There are an increasing number of workshops to help: Nature Connections draws on an appreciation of bird language to reconnect us, while the Art of Mentoring teaches a range of valuable nature connection practices. Maybe it’s time for me to lead some more nature connection workshops too!