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SNH urge Scots to make space for nature

Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is encouraging folk to make space for nature, as lockdown measures continue to ease across the nation.

According to a report by SNH, lockdown in Scotland saw an increase in the number of people visiting the outdoors to enjoy nature and stay healthy.

Of the 1,000 people surveyed, SNH has revealed that Scots took more outdoor exercise and expect to continue this as restrictions lift, with:

  • 70 per cent citing health as a motivator for getting outdoors.
  • More than 1 in 3 people specifically referencing managing stress as a reason for exercising outdoors (35 per cent).
  • 63 per cent of those stating their experiences had helped them de-stress, relax and unwind, and 58 per cent felt energised and revitalised.

Make Space for Nature encourages people to further explore simple, fun activities that can help nature thrive – from submitting sightings of birds, frogs, and butterflies – to swapping pollinator-friendly plant cuttings with friends and even learning to love weeds – a great food source for pollinators.

The survey also shows:

  • 34 per cent of Scots getting a daily dose of nature, compared to 22% prior to lockdown.
  • 71 per cent heading outside at least once a week, up from 59 per cent.
  • 89 per cent of outdoor visitors took regular local walks (an increase from 77 per cent) and around 20 per cent running or cycling (up from 5 per cent).

SNH wants to capitalise on this renewed interest in nature and getting outdoors by launching Make Space for Nature — a campaign to encourage everyone to continue to make space for nature in their lives – be it a daily walk or taking a mindful minute to listen to birdsong.

SNH chief executive, Francesca Osowska, has linked the heightened importance of nature to recovery from COVID-19.

“Nature is at the heart of our emergence from this crisis,” she said.

“The results from this survey reinforce just how important nature is for all of us — both physically through exercising and emotionally for our mental health.”

According to SNH, levels of participation in nature focused activities increased significantly during lockdown — many relaxed in their garden (62 per cent), took part in gardening (42 per cent), enjoyed wildlife in their garden (36 per cent) and enjoyed watching wildlife from indoors through a window (30 per cent).

Ms Osowska added: “During lockdown, activities such as noticing birds and wildlife, and the change in seasons, were relatively high, even among those who rarely or never visited the outdoors.

“These people have made an important first step in loving nature and experiencing all the benefits. We want to help them keep it up.

“These survey results and the enthusiastic response to the Make Space for Nature campaign gives us confidence that Scotland is well placed to reverse the decline in diversity of animal and plant species in Scotland. As the need for nature is ever more apparent, the way Scotland recovers from COVID-19 could be one important way we secure a nature rich future for generations to come.”

SNH is keen to encourage and support people to develop their interest, learn more and get involved in nature. Top tips to help everyone continue to make space for nature in their lives this summer can be found online https://www.nature.scot/scotlands-biodiversity/make-space-nature-summer.