Tamsin Constable

Environmental educators: are you missing a trick?

Fungi walks, plant ID sessions, lists of birds, do NOT support people’s sense of being connected to nature, according to recent research.*

So what does?

Researchers from Derby University highlight the five main pathways – and there’s not a field guide in sight*. They are:

1. Contact (we engage with all our senses). 2. Beauty (this is about connecting through aesthetics). 3. Meaning (nature represents ideas). 4. Emotion. 5. Compassion.

“There is a need to go beyond … knowledge and identification, to pathways that develop a more meaningful and emotional relationship with nature,” says researcher Dr Miles Richardson. “It is clear ‘the arts’ has a great deal to offer in reconnecting people to nature.”

Writing is a fantastic way for people – regardless of skill or ability – to connect with nature.

*Lumber R., Richardson M., Sheffield D. (2017) Beyond Knowing Nature: Contact, emotion, compassion, meaning, and beauty are pathways to nature connection. PLoS ONE 12(5): e0177186