Recognizing the importance of near-home contact with nature for mental well-being based on the COVID-19 lockdown experience

Magdalena L. Lenda, Piotr Skórka, Małgorzata Jaźwa, Hsien Yung Lin, Edward Nęcka, Piotr Tryjanowski, Dawid Moroń, Johannes M.H. Knops, Hugh P. Possingham

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)

Abstract

Several urban landscape planning solutions have been introduced around the world to find a balance between developing urban spaces, maintaining and restoring biodiversity, and enhancing quality of human life. Our global mini-review, combined with analysis of big data collected from Google Trends at global scale, reveals the importance of enjoying day-to-day contact with nature and engaging in such activities as nature observation and identification and gardening for the mental well-being of humans during the COVID-19 pandemic. Home-based activities, such as watching birds from one’s window, identifying species of plants and animals, backyard gardening, and collecting information about nature for citizen science projects, were popular during the first lockdown in spring 2020, when people could not easily venture out of their homes. In our mini-review, we found 37 articles from 28 countries with a total sample of 114,466 people. These papers suggest that home-based engagement with nature was an entertaining and pleasant distraction that helped preserve mental well-being during a challenging time. According to Google Trends, interest in such activities increased during lockdown compared to the previous five years. Millions of people worldwide are chronically or temporarily confined to their homes and neighborhoods because of illness, childcare chores, or elderly care responsibility, which makes it difficult for them to travel far to visit such places as national parks, created through land sparing, where people go to enjoy nature and relieve stress. This article posits that for such people, living in an urban landscape designed to facilitate effortless contact with small natural areas is a more effective way to receive the mental health benefits of contact with nature than visiting a sprawling nature park on rare occasions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13
JournalEcology and Society
Volume28
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2023

Keywords

  • birdwatching
  • citizen science
  • COVID-19
  • eBird
  • gardening
  • iNaturalist
  • lockdown
  • mental health
  • mental well-being
  • nature observation
  • plant identification
  • small local areas
  • stress

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