Millions of people benefit from the work of The Wildlife Trusts every year. From our nature therapy projects to improve mental health, to our urban conservation programmes that bring nature back in towns and cities, people are at the heart of what we do.

We want to ensure a wildlife-rich natural world contributes to the health and wellbeing of our society, by making socializing, volunteering, exercise and play in wildlife-rich natural places central to everyone’s daily life.

Our research with the University of Essex

From 2015-17 the School of Biological Sciences at the University of Essex carried out research on behalf of The Wildlife Trusts, to:

■ Study the mental wellbeing of volunteers on Wildlife Trust projects.
■ Collect information from projects across The Wildlife Trusts to evaluate their impact on people’s health and wellbeing.
■ Review the scientific literature, to investigate whether nature-rich environments had any specific impacts on people’s health and wellbeing.

The findings are particularly important for people who live with a mental health condition. The research showed that nature volunteering had the most
significant impact on those with low levels of mental wellbeing at the start of the project.

The research showed a range of other benefits, such as increased feelings of positivity, levels of physical activity and contact with nature. People who were
already volunteering for Wildlife Trusts had higher levels of mental wellbeing than those who were just starting out, yet continued to improve their mental health.

A summary of research by the University of Essex for The Wildlife Trusts Study on the mental wellbeing of Wildlife Trust volunteers (2017) The Wildlife Trusts'
contribution to the health & wellbeing of  people (an assessment, 2016)
from natural
rich in wildlife (a literature review, 2015)

5 Ways to Wellbeing

Work by the New Economics Foundation, based on the work of 400 scientists around the world, proposes five evidence-based ‘Ways to Wellbeing’. Practising these in natural settings could help to improve your physical and mental health.

Be Active – go outside for a walk or explore your nearest nature reserve
Connect – with the people around you, share your wildlife experiences
Give – do something to help your local place and the people that live there
Take Notice - of the everyday wildness on your doorstep
Learn – let nature be your teacher, try something new outside

Read more 

Good mental health

Ageing well

Connecting to nature


FilenameFile size
r3_the_health_and_wellbeing_impacts_of_volunteering_with_the_wildlife_trusts_-_university_of_essex_report_3.pdf22.41 MB
r2_contribution_of_the_wildlife_trusts_to_local_people.pdf1.39 MB
r1_literature_review_wellbeing_benefits_of_wild_places_lres.pdf980.97 KB
summary_volunteering_-_a_natural_health_service.pdf4.27 MB