How the Wild at Home campaign aims to help us all enjoy and discover wildlife
PUBLISHED: 00:00 16 June 2020
Herts & Middlesex Wildlife Trust has launched a project to help us all benefit from the calming power of nature, even in an urban setting.
Bird song fills the air. Pops of yellow, white and purple are appearing in our gardens, parks and woodlands. Lakes and ponds are filled with the next generation of frogs and toads. Queen bees are waking up from hibernation and busy starting a new colony. Spring is unfolding all around us, but this year, with the restrictions of lockdown, it has been more difficult to see and some of us are missing out on these experiences if they are not in walking distance of our homes.
At this stressful time a daily dose of nature is even more important. Studies have shown that nature and mental health are inextricably connected. Daily contact with wildlife and wild places is linked to reduced levels of chronic stress as well as reductions in obesity, and improved concentration. Employees are more rarely absent from work and more productive if they are able to look at green space during work. Natural features in our neighbourhood can help reduce mental illness. Green exercise and ecotherapy benefits our health and wellbeing. In short, being in nature makes us happy. For children, growing up with regular contact to nature can help boost confidence, develop creativity and imagination, engender responsibility and improve both physical and psychological skills.
With current events, it is more important than ever to get a regular dose of Vitamin N(ature) to keep our minds healthy. This is why Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust has launched Wild at Home to help us all enjoy and discover wildlife from the safety of our homes. The campaign, which is free and available to all, provides discovery activities, arts and craft challenges, educational resources and inspiration to explore wildlife and connect to nature on our doorstep.
Wild at Home ideas
Whether you live in a flat or a house with a garden, chances are there is wildlife around you. Creating a nature diary to make notes or drawings is a simple way to become more aware of your surroundings. Herts and Middlesex Wildlife Trust offers a free diary template to download and print.
On your daily walk see how many different animals and plants you can spot. Have a different theme every day – look for birds on one day, wildflowers on another. Log your discoveries in your nature diary. The trust has downloadable ‘spotter sheets’ to tick off wildlife and to help with identification.
Positive actions for the environment are guaranteed to make us feel better. The trust has simple ideas and inspiration to make our homes, gardens and neighbourhoods more attractive and inviting for wildlife. Making a bird feeder or creating a hedgehog highway gives the joy of doing something positive for wildlife, but it also increases the chances of seeing more of it.
During the Wild at Home campaign, the trust sets weekly arts and craft challenges for big and small. These are a great way to get little ones active and creative and can help you express your creativity too. Drawing invertebrates, for example, will get you really close to wildlife to study their features. While creating wildflower origami will keep the family entertained.
Sometimes, it’s important to switch off and let your mind relax. This can often be easier with or in nature. One way to do this is to create a sound map. If you have a garden, sit, close your eyes and listen. You might hear birds singing, the rushing of leaves in the wind or a bee buzzing. Try to make out what sounds are coming from where and mark them on a sheet of paper with yourself in the middle. It will slow your thoughts down and redirect your focus away from anxiety-inducing rolling news reports.
The Wild at Home campaign is free and available to anyone who misses their daily dose of nature. Find all the resources at hertswildlifetrust.org.uk/wildathome or sign up for weekly updates straight to your inbox.