Make Space for Nature

Arran’s local MSP Kenneth Gibson reports on a new Scottish Natural Heritage initiative Make Space for Nature

As lockdown measures ease, Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) is encouraging folk to make space for nature.

Lockdown saw an increase in the number of people visiting the outdoors to enjoy the natural environment and stay healthy.

Of 1,000 people SNH surveyed, they found that more took outdoor exercise over lockdown and it’s expected that this will continue as restrictions continue to lift. During lockdown, 34% of Scots enjoyed the natural environment, compared to just 22% before.

Health was said to be a motivating factor for getting outdoors by 70% of people, with 63% stating their experiences had helped them de-stress, relax and unwind, while 58% felt energised and revitalised.

SNH’s new campaign Make Space for Nature encourages people to further explore simple, fun activities that get you outdoors and can help the natural world thrive.

The environment is central to a healthy emergence from this crisis and the past few, difficult months have shown just how important it is for all of us, both physically through exercising and emotionally for our mental health. Of course, on Arran islanders readily appreciate that. It’s a reason why many people feel so at home.

Activities as simple as relaxing in the garden or even watching wildlife can all make a big difference.

During lockdown, activities such as watching birds and wildlife and the change in seasons were relatively high, even among those who rarely or never visited the outdoors. Many people have made an important first step in acknowledging their love of nature, while experiencing the benefits and we should all work to keep this up going forward.

The way Scotland recovers from COVID-19 could be crucial in helping to preserve and enhance our environment for generations to come. SNH is keen to encourage and support people to develop their interest, learn more and get involved.

Moving forward we should all make space for the natural world in our lives, be it a daily walk or taking a minute to listen to birdsong. Giving something back through volunteering also makes space for nature in your day and help us understand and improve Scotland’s environment.

Information and tips are on the SNH website