The Oak Project Extraordinary arts experiences connecting people with nature
We are living in a time of unprecedented environmental change. In May 2019, the UK was the first country in the world to declare a climate emergency, just days after an international group of scientists (IPBES) reported that nature is declining globally at rates unprecedented in human history. One million species are threatened with extinction and ‘grave impacts on people around the world now likely’. We face both ecological and climate collapse.
At same time, as a society we have never spent less time in nature. This is having serious impacts on our health and wellbeing, and has been attributed to rising rates of obesity, attention disorders, depression and myopia.
For the health of both people and planet we need to rebalance our relationship with nature, from one of utility and control, to one of deep connection and interdependence. We need to build nature connectedness.
Nature connection gives people greater vitality, purpose and happiness, and helps us cope better with anxiety and stress. Increased nature connection benefits nature too. When people are connected with nature, they are more likely to have positive attitudes and behaviour towards the environment. Research shows nature connectedness explains 30x more pro-nature behaviour than knowledge-based environmental education. It provides the all-important motivation for adopting a more environmentally friendly lifestyle –when connected, harming nature is harming one’s self.
But where to start in transforming such a deeply rooted worldview as that of man’s dominion over nature? The answer lies, not in looking back, but forward to a new relationship with nature incorporated into every part of our lives because it is our lives. A new social norm of deep nature connectedness based on tuning in with the senses, letting nature manage our emotions and well-being, cultural celebrations of the meaning and beauty of nature – and, above all, loving nature.