Three of the most important issues of our time – the climate emergency, wildlife loss and the mental health crisis – have one thing at their heart: the relationship between people and nature.

The Oak Project’s work is based on research by the University of Derby which shows that arts activities are uniquely placed to help people build stronger connections to nature.

Feeling connected to the natural world brings vital benefits for both people and planet. Research shows that life feels better when we have a strong connection to nature, boosting our wellbeing, purpose, happiness and mental health. Nature connectedness also makes us more likely to care for the world around us. At a time when our planet is facing a climate crisis and mass extinction, nature connection is vital because it motivates us to preserve and protect the environment.

But connecting with nature is not an everyday habit – Only 19% of adults in the UK often spend time in nature to make themselves happy.

The role of art in nature connection

The research found five key ways we can strengthen our bond with nature, from physical contact with the earth to contemplating its meaning and aesthetics – all of which lend themselves perfectly to creative, cultural activities. This new insight guides the Oak Project in pioneering a new arts-based approach to increasing nature connection.

For more information about the University of Derby’s research, check out the Nature Connectedness Research Group’s website, and the Nature & Me Booklet 2021.