New poll reveals city-dwellers love nature but don’t get enough of it

Thursday 1st June 2017

30 Days WildGo wild in June! Image (c) Ben Hall / 2020 Vision

30 Days Wild challenge from The Wildlife Trusts helps people enjoy nature every day

A new poll of over 2,400 people living in major cities across the UK reveals that city-dwellers have a strong affinity for nature and think that it’s important to help care for it. But the poll also highlights a conflict: while city-dwellers feel that nature is important to them, they struggle to connect with it as much as they’d like and a high proportion of people want to see more nature in cities.

The survey comes at a time when we have stronger evidence than ever before that nature is good for us and makes us happy. However, people feel increasingly disconnected from nature and large numbers want cities - the places where most people actually live and work - to have more wildlife. The poll reveals:

• 89% of city-dwellers surveyed feel that nature is important to them but 80% of them don’t think that they spend enough time in nature

• Just 21% said that the last ‘wow’ moment they had with nature was in their local city area – while 60% of people’s most recent special moments with nature was from elsewhere, such as television, holidays and visits to the countryside. Only 9% have enjoyed visiting a wild place as part of their working day in the last week .

• 92% of adults think it’s important to help nature – 56% report doing something to help it in their garden, and 78% of adults want to see more nature in their cities.

The poll results are released as The Wildlife Trusts launch their 30 Days Wild challenge which runs throughout June encouraging people to commit Random Acts of Wildness – daily connections with nature – every day for thirty days. More than 40,000 have pledged to do this so far including 3,000 schools and 1,000 businesses.

Lucy McRobert of The Wildlife Trusts says:
“The poll clearly shows that nature means a lot to people living in cities. People love nature so much that a very high proportion say they are doing something to help care for it. The fact that so many adults want to see more nature in their cities is a wake-up call to us all.

“Only a fifth of city-dwellers have experienced a special moment where they were amazed by wildlife they’d seen or heard in their local area recently even though the beauty of wild plants and sounds of bees buzzing, and birdsong are available to us all. Those ‘wow’ wildlife moments are all around us and taking part in 30 Days Wild is the perfect way to help you find them.”

The Wildlife Trusts are urging everyone to take part in the 30 Days Wild challenge and have ‘wow’ moments every day during June, and discover just how life enhancing that can feel. Discover the urban jungle - spot gorgeous goldfinches, ferns growing out of walls or go barefoot in a park! Take action for nature by planting a mini-meadow in a window box or create a container pond!

Lucy McRobert continues:
“The poll found that very few of us enjoy wild places at lunchtime. With the pressure on at work, it’s easy to get stuck behind your desk. 30 Days Wild has lots of ideas for helping make nature part of your work life, as well as at home: less screen time, more green time!”

Among those taking the 30 Days Wild challenge this year are:

Amy Williams MBE, Olympic Gold Medallist, TV presenter and public speaker, says: “I have always been passionate about wildlife and looking after the world we live in. I’ve been lucky to go on some amazing wild adventures all around the world, but my love of nature began at home. Some of the greatest adventures happen in your everyday life. 30 Days Wild is perfect for me; it combines my love of being outdoors and staying active with my creative side, too. I can’t wait to get involved!”

Ellie Harrison, presenter of Countryfile and President of the Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust, says:
“Children are skilled at playing in nature. But they’re even better at it when adults are doing it too: it’s an approval that it’s worth doing. But perhaps most importantly of all, by watching adults enjoying themselves they too will learn how to have fun. Pledge random acts of wildness every day this June and join us in 30 Days Wild!’

Dr Alice Roberts, Academic, writer and broadcaster, says:
“Getting out in the natural world is good for the mind and body. And it's not just for the weekend – it should be every single day. Immerse yourself in nature this June with 30 Days Wild!"

Levison Wood, Explorer, writer and photographer, says:
"It's so important that interest in nature begins from an early age. Projects like 30 Days Wild are crucial in doing so and wish it every success."

The impact of taking part in 30 Days Wild has been tracked by academics at the University of Derby. Their study found that people who did something ‘wild’ each day for a month, felt happier, healthier and more connected to nature, with added benefits for the natural world too.

Dr Miles Richardson, University of Derby’s Director of Psychology, who led the study, said:
“The impact of 30 Days Wild adds to the compelling argument for bringing nature into our everyday lives. Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of people who reported their health as excellent. Last year’s results also show people’s happiness continued to improve after 30 Days Wild ended, which illustrates its sustained impact. This is important as it is happiness and connecting with nature that influence improvements in health. Our study also shows that those who benefitted most were younger adults and those who weren’t ‘nature lovers’.”

More on the results of the poll, which was undertaken by YouGov here:
• 88% of adults in the cities surveyed think that nature is important to them. They enjoy spending time in wild places (89%) and tend to feel relaxed in areas of wildlife/ wild places (90%).
• 80% didn’t think that they spent enough time in nature
• 21% said their last ‘wow’ moment (a moment when they were amazed by something they had seen or heard) with nature was in their local city area, with 60% of people recalling their last ‘wow’ moments about nature coming from: television (17%), holiday (20%) and from visits to the countryside (18%)
• 58% have stopped and noticed nature in the past week; 52% have watched wildlife near to their home or in their garden; 42% have stopped and listened to birdsong; 36% of people have visited an area of nature in the past week
• 9% have enjoyed a wild place as part of their working day, either near to their workplace or in their lunchbreak in the last week, and 22% of adults said they had experienced none of these things in the past week.
• 78% of adults want to see more nature in their cities
• 57% of adults in cities report doing something to help nature in their garden, whether that’s growing plants and flowers that insects can thrive on (46%); feeding the birds (36%); putting up nest boxes (17%) or having a pond (9%). Just 16% report not doing anything at all.
• 92% of adults in the cities think it’s important to help nature, but just a fifth (21%) think that they’re doing everything that they can. 71% want to do more, but for various reasons are struggling, for example 9% can’t find the time and 14% simply don’t know what they can do.

Take the 30 Days Wild nature challenge!

• Can you go wild every day for a whole month? Take the 30 Days Wild nature challenge this June with The Wildlife Trusts.

• Spend a few minutes, or a few hours each day enjoying nature on your doorstep - how you do it is up to you. Get a free 30 Days Wild pack - activities, wildflower seeds, chart, stickers (or download a pack without seeds). Schools can download specially tailored packs to support teachers, including outdoor lesson plans for literacy and numeracy, activity sheets and a large pack of Random Act of Wildness cards.

Sign up here!