Archived content: This media release was accurate on the date of publication. 


As we enter Conservation Week (4-12 September 2021) and the nation’s 4th week at heightened COVID-19 alert levels, a new report highlights the importance of connection to nature and others in helping people get through the global pandemic.

Date:  03 September 2021

DOC is today releasing new qualitative research into New Zealanders’ participation in the outdoors within a COVID-19 context. It shows that, while feelings of anxiety are a natural response to the pandemic, people who increased time in nature over the last year, also increased their resilience and ability to adapt to changing contexts.

“Never before has Conservation Week’s theme of taking a moment for nature, while simultaneously taking a moment to benefit our own wellbeing, been more pertinent,” says DOC Strategy and Insights Manager, Tim Bamford.

“Our personal wellbeing and nature’s wellbeing are strongly interconnected. Our health and resilience is strengthened when we connect with nature. This report shows us simple things we can all do to help us get by and bounce back faster while also helping New Zealand’s natural environment to bounce back too.”

The report ‘Resilience through nature’ shows that, while all research participants experienced some level of uncertainty and anxiety over the last year, people coped with change differently. Some embraced it, some juggled around it and others resisted it. Those who embraced or juggled change tended to:

  • increase their outdoor activities
  • expand their connections with others
  • connect with and appreciate nature
  • engage in biodiversity and conservation action.

Connecting with nature supported people’s mental health – increasing subjective wellbeing and building resilience, says Tim Bamford.

“This connection is currently more meaningful than ever as we cherish the respite offered by our backyards or local outdoor spaces through heightened alert levels. Natural spaces have a pivotal role in supporting the mental and physical health of all New Zealanders and we all have a role in preserving these.”

The report touched on constraints around access to the outdoors for some, and how people’s gardens and backyards have taken on new meaning over the last year. It also showed how connecting with others during COVID-19 lockdown reduced anxiety and created a sense of community.

The report will help inform DOC’s work to support people in getting into nature and taking actions that give back to conservation and biodiversity, says Tim Bamford.

“Our natural environment is struggling too, and even small things we do can make a difference.”

“This Conservation Week, take a moment outdoors for yourself through going for a walk; drinking a coffee in your backyard or by the window, observing the plants, birds and insects outside; nurturing your garden; or checking on your friends and neighbours (at a distance). When alert levels decrease, there’s an opportunity to combine the health benefits of all of these things by joining community restoration initiatives, such as planting days or activities run by your local Predator Free 2050 group.”

Read the full report

Resilience through nature (PDF, 2,370K)

Conservation Week

Find out more about Conservation Week and activities you can do to let nature in and strengthen your wellbeing: Conservation Week


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