Dare to be wild! New review says get long-lasting feel-good factor from 30 Days Wild

The Wildlife Trusts and University of Derby evaluate the benefits of daily nature contact with 1,000 people over five years

The feel-good factor from simple daily contact with nature can last for months, once initiated, according to a new review from The Wildlife Trusts. The review is based on surveys completed by people taking part in 30 Days Wild – the UK’s biggest nature challenge which is run by The Wildlife Trusts and inspires daily acts of nature engagement every day during June.

Building on three peer-reviewed papers, the University of Derby has evaluated survey responses from more than 1,000 people over five years and discovered the enduring effects on wellbeing from participation in 30 Days Wild – the positive effects are still felt two months after the challenge is over.  

30 Days Wild participants are provided with ideas, wallcharts and activity sheets that give everyone easy ways of enjoying nature whatever their location. These ‘random acts of wildness’ range from walking barefoot on grass, to sitting beneath a tree or watching birds on a feeder.

Key findings

30 Days Wild – a five-year review is a summary of 1,105 people’s responses. The results show that taking part in 30 Days Wild not only significantly increases people’s wellbeing and heightened sense of nature – but that these positive increases are sustained beyond the life of the challenge – for a minimum of two months after it is over.

The people who benefit most are those who have a relatively weak connection with nature at the start.

  • 30 Days Wild resulted in very significant increases in nature connectedness for those who began with a weak connection to nature – their nature connectedness rose by 56%
  • 30 Days Wild boosted the health of participants by an average of 30%
  • 30 Days Wild made people, particularly those who started with a relatively weak connection to nature, significantly happier
  • 30 Days Wild inspired significant increases in pro-nature behaviour

Other important findings include:

  • People were asked to rate their health, nature connectedness, happiness and pro-nature behaviour before beginning the challenge, again at the beginning of July when the challenge had finished, and then for a third time in September, two months after the challenge had finished. All positive increases were maintained both immediately after the challenge and also two months later.
  • Overall, those participants with the lowest connection to nature before doing the 30 Days Wild challenge gained the greatest benefits by taking part in the challenge.
Meadow (c) Matthew Roberts

Meadow (c) Matthew Roberts

Professor Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness at the University of Derby, says:

Professor Miles Richardson, Professor of Human Factors and Nature Connectedness at the University of Derby, says:

“This five-year evaluation of 30 Days Wild has produced remarkable results – it shows the positive power of simple engagement with nature. We were thrilled to see that the significant increases in people’s health and happiness were still felt even two months after the 30 Days Wild challenge was over.

“The Wildlife Trusts have shown the importance of doing simple things to enjoy everyday nature and that it can bring considerable benefits. What really stood out was how the people who didn’t feel a connection with nature at the outset were the ones who benefitted most from taking part in 30 Days Wild.”

Over a million people have taken part in 30 Days Wild during the last five years. Last year, 2019, was the most successful so far, attracting 400,000 participants. This June, The Wildlife Trusts believe the challenge will prove more popular than ever as the UK battles with social restrictions and people are looking for ways to keep spirits up and entertain young families. Whilst time spent outside may be limited, daily nature activities – even at home – can open a door to a world of sensory delights, from listening to birdsong or growing a pot of wildflowers on a windowsill.

People of all ages can sign-up and download fun ideas, wallcharts, activity sheets and inspiration for going wild in nature during June.  This year the campaign is 100% digital and everyone can download materials for FREE.

Dom Higgins, head of health and education at The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“Every June, The Wildlife Trusts get very excited to see people becoming closer to nature in their daily lives. With 30 Days Wild there’s so much fun, enchantment and inspiration to be had. Connecting with nature every day, in an easy way, is a must have for our own wellbeing. That’s why The Wildlife Trusts are campaigning for better, wilder places near to where we all live and work so that everyone, everywhere, can enjoy nature on the doorstep.

“Dare to be wild this June! We want to encourage people who are least likely to spend time in nature in their daily lives to take part in the 30 Days Wild challenge and give it a go – those people who do not feel much of a connection to nature – because we know that they’re the ones who will benefit most from doing it.

“Our lives have been changed by coronavirus and this is giving people a reason to reflect on our relationship with nature, the way we live our lives and how we spend our free time.  Precious moments outside on a daily walk help us to relax and feel happier. Even watching wildlife from a window, or on a webcam, connects us to that sense of being a part of nature, not apart from it.”

30 Days Wild has attracted well-known supporters: TV presenters Ellie Harrison, Monty Don and Dr Amir Khan, The Vamps’ James McVey, fitness blogger Zanna van Dijk, and Birdgirl – Mya-Rose Craig, have lent their support to The Wildlife Trusts’ 30 Days Wild challenge – please see quotes in the Editors’ notes.

The 2020 challenge has brand new downloads to enjoy, including:

  • Wildlife gardening tips from Monty Don
  • Beginner’s guide to wildlife photography from award-winning George Stoyle
  • Wild fitness ideas from Zanna Van Dijk

Our Big Wild Weekend events will focus on nature at home – on Saturday 20th June everyone’s invited to camp in their back garden or create a wild and beautiful nature den indoors!

30 Days Wild – a five-year review can be downloaded here.

Sign-up, download the inspiration and get ready to share your daily #30DaysWild now! www.wildlifetrusts/30DaysWild

Man taking part in 30 Days Wild

Sign up to take part in 30 Days Wild

Take part today

Peer-reviewed papers previously published about 30 Days Wild:

  • Richardson, M. McEwan, K., & Garip, G. (2018). 30 Days Wild: Who benefits most? Journal of Public Mental Health, 17(3), 95-104. Online here.
  • Richardson, M. & McEwan, K. (2018). 30 Days Wild and the relationships between engagement with nature’s beauty, nature connectedness and well-being. Frontiers in Psychology, 9:1500. Doi: 10.3389/ fpsyg.2018.01500. Online here.
  • Richardson, M., Cormack, A., McRobert, L., and Underhill, R. (2016). 30 Days Wild: development and evaluation of a large-scale nature engagement campaign to improve well-being. PLos ONE 11(2):e0149777. Doi:10.1371/journal. pone.0149777. Online here.

 

Over a million people have taken part in 30 Days Wild since it started in 2015

The number of people participating in 30 Days Wild grew to over 400,000 in 2019.  Many people now look forward to taking part in 30 Days Wild every year – so we have serial 30 Days Wild groupies! We have worked out that over a million people have taken the challenge so far. (We took the number of sign ups that have registered for more than one year (17,903) and worked that out as a percentage of all sign ups (238,500). It’s about 7.5%. And 7.5% of all total participants over the five years is about 85,000. So total number of participants, minus 85,000 = 1,010,590.)

Notes on Data Analysis

Participants

1105 participants completed all stages of the study (2015 N = 129; 2016 N = 270; 2017 N = 308; 2018 N=251; 2019 N=147).

Design

The evaluation used a 1 x 3 repeated measures time-series design. Self-reported scores were collected at three time points: pre participation, post participation, and follow up at two months following completion. An online survey measured participants’ connection to nature, health, happiness and the extent to which they engaged in pro-nature conservation behaviours.

Table 1. Pre-participation, post-participation and follow-up survey percentages for outcome measures (Conservation N = 958; all other N = 1105).

 

Pre-participation

Post-participation

Pre-to-post

Follow up

Pre-to-follow up

 

Mean

SD

Mean

SD

% change

Mean

SD

% change

INS

57.59

24.19

66.53

21.68

+15.52

67.11

22.35

+16.53

Health

3.54

0.95

4.66

2.06

+31.64

4.55

1.88

+28.53

Happiness

7.33

1.69

7.79

1.56

+6.28

7.91

1.49

+7.91

Conservation

3.08

1.04

3.29

.96

+6.82

3.3

.98

+7.14

                       

INS-Inclusion of nature in self measure of nature connectedness.

 

Table 1 shows the means and standard deviations for all outcome measures along with the percentage change across time points.  Scores for all measures increased from pre to post and pre to follow-up. A repeated measures MANOVA showed that there were statistically significant differences in scores between pre and post measures (F(4, 953) = 163.23, p <.001, ƞ2p = .407). Follow-up univariate analyses and paired t-tests found statistically significant increases for all study variables (p’s < .001, see Table 2).

Table 2. Summary of univariate analyses and paired t-test analyses showing statistically significant differences

Measure

Pre to post

Pre to follow-up

Post to follow up

Univariate analyses

 

t

p

t

p

t

P

F

df

p

INS

13.14

< .001

13

< .001

.98

.33

154.11

1,957

< .001

Health

20.17

< .001

20.53

< .001

3.91

<.001

414.45

1,957

< .001

Happiness

11.48

< .001

14.37

< .001

-3.5

<.001

101.1

1,957

< .001

Conservation

9.44

< .001

9.2

< .001

.78

.43

89.14

1,157

< .001

INS-Inclusion of nature in self measure of nature connectedness.

Table 3. Means and standard deviations for outcome measures for those starting 30 Days Wild with lower nature connectedness (Conservation N = 477; all other N = 502)

 

Pre-participation

Post-participation

Pre-to-post

Follow up

Pre-to-follow up

 

Mean

SD

Mean

SD

% change

Mean

SD

% change

INS

37.57

16.47

56.77

20.22

+51.1

58.8

21.45

+56.5

Health

3.47

.91

4.17

1.62

+20.2

4.12

1.46

+18.7

Happiness

6.86

1.74

7.58

1.55

+10.5

7.74

1.45

+12.8

Conservation

2.97

1.18

3.3

1.05

+11.1

3.31

1.07

+11.4

                       

INS-Inclusion of nature in self measure of nature connectedness.

The participants who began 30 Days Wild with a relatively weak connection to nature (above) experienced the greatest boost to both their nature connectedness and happiness.

 

30 Days Wild supporter quotes

Ellie Harrison, TV presenter and Vice President of The Wildlife Trusts, says:

“We are all, but for 200 years of industrialisation, creatures of the land. It’s why nature looks beautiful to us; why we know how to be in nature; and why nature makes us feel content. 30 Days Wild from The Wildlife Trusts reminds us to notice nature in small moments every day. The stillness of even a few seconds changes our relationship with the planet and connects us with the truth of who we are.”

Dr Amir Khan, The Wildlife Trusts’ health ambassador and TV doctor, says:

“Being outdoors and enjoying nature is fantastic. Not only to see what’s going on around us, but also for our physical and mental health. A lot of research has shown that spending – even a short amount of time – embracing nature, can have a positive effect on our health. Why not join us and do something wild everyday this June?”

James McVey of The Vamps says:

Sometimes it can be hard in our busy lives to make a little time for us and get outside. We can get wrapped up in what we're doing, forgetting the incredible and wonderful things that are happening around us. That's why I look forward to June and The Wildlife Trusts' 30 Days Wild challenge. It reminds me, whether I’m at home, on the road or in the studio that outside the door is the magic of nature. Doing something, anything, each day to appreciate this helps me feel connected and grounded to our amazing world.”

Mya-Rose Craig (BirdGirl), says: 

“As many people know, I have been birding all my life, I know how fortunate I am to live in the countryside, surrounded by fields and trees – not all young people are as fortunate. I wish everyone could grow up with wild landscapes on their doorsteps. As humans, we are designed to spend most of our time outdoors and use our connection with the natural world to keep us mentally and physically well. 30 Days Wild from The Wildlife Trusts is a fantastic opportunity to take small steps each day to engage with nature; you don’t even need to have access to the countryside, you'll be surprised what's around you and what you can see from your window or even in the city!”