Nature Therapy: Use of the Great Outdoors in these Challenging Times

Nature Therapy: Use of the Great Outdoors in these Challenging Times

The Wildlife Trust's Reserves while we are in "lockdown".

As a society we are in unprecedented times, none of us have been in this situation before or exposed to the challenges and threats it poses. As a society we must all play our part and following government guidance is key in defeating this pandemic. However, restrictions on our daily life and being in “lockdown” pose a number of challenges for us all but in particular the impact on our mental wellbeing. The fact that we are restricted in what we can do will impact us all. Not being able to see family, friends, work colleagues and carry out our normal lives is stressful. We are affected by this in different ways and we all have our own ways of dealing with this, but what options may be available to us to help combat these stressful times?

The benefits of engaging with the environment are widely recognised, being outdoors reduces stress. Connecting with and being exposed to nature helps greatly with mental wellbeing. The Trust have been developing programmes promoting this for some time. Be it Woodland therapy, Forest School or new initiatives through our Wilder strategy, the Trust have been leading the way. Given the current situation all of our programmes and events are on hold so the Trust is adapting its engagement and promoting a citizen science based approach promoting local wildlife. In line with our Wilder strategy and urban engagement, this programme has multiple strands and anyone can get involved. No matter where you live this is an interactive way of looking for and recording wildlife by looking through your window. If you are fortunate enough to have a garden there are other surveys that can also be carried out and ideas for encouraging wildlife.

Dog walker on St Catherine's Hill by Matt Doggett

One of the Trusts best resources is of course its Nature Reserves. Priding ourselves on our localness, we have reserves spread across the two counties that provide amazing opportunities for engaging with nature and seeing wonderful landscapes, habitats and wildlife. In these difficult times these also offer respite from the confinement of lockdown and could feature as part of your daily permissible exercise regime. The Trust Nature Reserves are all currently open but some of our car parks have been closed to support the Government guidelines of not driving to areas for daily permissible exercise. This is a great opportunity for you to get to know your local reserve and be inspired by the site’s wildlife and the work of the Trust. When visiting reserve’s, we would ask that you remember that these are sensitive sites, particularly so at the moment with bird nesting season (remember some species nest on the ground). Please behave responsibly by keeping to paths and not straying off into other parts of the reserves, please keep dogs on leads and always pick up after your dog, disposing of the waste in a bin. Please consider how your behaviour may impact the site and follow the countryside code

Importantly and in line with DEFRA and Public England advice:

  • Please stay at least 2 metres apart from other people at all times.
  • Please do not stop to play, picnic or sunbathe.
  • Please respect the reserve, wildlife and others by keeping dogs on leads.
  • Please leave gates as you find them, there may be livestock on site.
  • Please keep to paths and public areas only.

If anything should give you cause for concern when visiting one of our sites please report it to the Trust at or on 01489 774400. Or if of a serious nature call the Police on 101 or 999 if an emergency.

Skylark in grass © Amy Lewis

Our reserves offer much opportunity for people to reconnect with nature but let’s not forget that there primary function is to support local wildlife. By all means visit, enjoy and wonder at the wildlife they support but please remember that you are sharing this space so be respectful and ensure your visit does not have a negative impact. The reserves play a fundamental role in supporting wildlife, preserving the environment and inspiring people. Our Wilder vision for Hampshire and the Isle of Wight can only be delivered with you on board. Be inspired about your local environment, enjoy it responsibly and spread the message. Let our legacy be an environment restored, connected and full of life.

The Hampshire & Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust is a charity supported by its membership. If you have been inspired by our Wilder vision, the work we do or the reserves we manage then please consider supporting us. Please see for further information.