Clinical Psychology

Nature Connection Research Group

Evaluating the benefits of differing types of nature engagement and aiming to facilitate community-based projects that enhance nature connection

Connecting with nature has long been proposed to have physical and mental health benefits, with the scientific evidence base developing in relatively recent years. Epidemiological evidence indicates that individuals from more deprived socio-economic areas may have most to gain from greenspaces, yet many individuals do not engage in nature connection activities. Much of our research has sought to focus on means of nature connection that are accessible to all, recognising that many people do not have their own gardens or the funds to travel regularly or buy equipment. Thus most of our work on engaging with wildlife has focused upon garden birds, as these are generally accessible across all socioeconomic groups in the UK; projects relating to gardening have mostly focused on community gardens or allotments etc. Other projects seek to increase the accessibility of nature connection. 

Work by our students has informed the development of the proposed Biodiversity Strategy for the University of Edinburgh and supported the use of tools for assessing biodiversity in relation to people through the EDINA Greenspace Infrastructure Mapping App. 

People on the Meadows, Edinburgh

Our project areas include: 

  • Human animal interactions, both via spending time outdoors with domesticated animals and via engagement with wildlife  
  • The impact of biodiversity on observed relationships between greenspace and well-being 
  • Well-being effects from volunteering in greenspaces, including gardening and citizen science 
  • Public understanding of shared outdoor spaces  
  • How nature connection may facilitate the present-moment awareness component of mindfulness  
  • Benefits and barriers to community gardening  
  • Human relations with plants and landscapes 
  • Wellbeing benefits of houseplants  
  • Effects of nature connection activities on sleep quality 

 

We would be interested to hear from potential PhD students or from researchers or community groups with similar interests. Contact Paul Morris (p.g.morris@ed.ac.uk) or any member of the research group. 

Group members

Staff and students working in this group

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