Nature Matters

Health & WellbeingHealth & Wellbeing

Many of us know instinctively that being in nature makes us feel better. A three phased project on volunteering with The Wildlife Trusts now conclusively proves that nature has both direct and indirect positive impacts on our health and wellbeing.

The reports from the 3 year comprehensive research from University of Exeter and The Green Gym are attached, with extracts from the Cornwall Wildlife Trust - Wild Penwith and Wild Cober Volunteer Groups below:

Cornwall Wildlife Trust set up the Wild Penwith Volunteer group in January 2010 to maintain and restore valuable wildlife habitats (Cornwall Wildlife Trust, 2011). Continuing the success of this group, since May 2015, they have also successfully launched a second group, the Wild Cober Volunteers, run on the same lines. Volunteers were derived from a number of backgrounds but also included long-term unemployed, ex-offenders and recovering alcoholics, who restored 2.55 hectares of wildlife habitats in 388 volunteering days. A sub-set of 9 volunteers took part in a questionnaire survey provided by the Trust to determine the impact of the project on health and wellbeing.

All volunteers reported that the project had resulted in improvements in their fitness and strength: “Not only is volunteering fun, but it’s a great way to exercise and spend time outside in nature.” Approximately 93% of participants also reported that the activities had a positive effect on mental health: “I always feel my mood improves once I am out in the countryside.” In addition, 86% of participants felt that they had increased their confidence, self-esteem and self-positivity and 78% reported that the volunteering had a positive effect on their emotional well-being.

All participants reported having achieved a sense of purpose and satisfaction, and that they had made new friends: “I have met lots of people through taking part in this activity and thoroughly enjoyed the work and their company.” The volunteering programme also helped to tackle issues related to unemployment as 75% of participants reported that the project had helped to improve their job prospects through skill development: “Some skills I have learnt I will take on for the rest of my life.”

The full reports are below. If you'd like to volunteer, all our volunteer opportunities at Cornwall Wildlife Trust are here.


FilenameFile size
volunteering_-_a_natural_health_service.pdf4.26 MB
contribution_of_the_wildlife_trusts_to_the_health_and_wellbeing_of_local_people_-_2016.pdf1.39 MB
the_health_and_wellbeing_impacts_of_volunteering_with_the_wildlife_trusts_-_2017.pdf22.41 MB