Climate anxiety linked to lack of green space access

time:2023-06-10 02:07:41source:BBC News (British Broadcasting Corporation) author:Press center6

Climate anxiety among young people has been linked to a lack of access green space, a conservation charity says.

In a poll commissioned by the Woodland Trust, seven out of 10 young people said they were worried about the the environment.

The YouGov poll also found 86% of those surveyed felt being around nature had a positive effect on their mental health.

The trust, which runs a 400-acre Young People's Forest at Mead in Derbyshire, said the results were alarming.

The trust's chief executive Dr Darren Moorcroft said access to woodland was declining and tree cover in the UK was one of the lowest in Europe.

He said: "Young people are experiencing an epidemic of climate anxiety and are increasingly worried about the health of the planet.

"We know that being outdoors and among nature has a positive effect on mental health - but the level of access to green space in the UK is simply not good enough.

"Woodland cover in the UK is desperately low and we want to see it increased.

"Trees and woods are integral to tackling both the nature and climate crises, but many young people miss out on both the physical and mental health benefits of being among nature."

He called on the government to give everyone access to green space within 15 minutes' walk of their home by 2030.

Elyse White, 22, who works at the Young People's Forest, said being close to nature had had "a monumental impact on her life".

"I suffer from anxiety but the forest has contributed massively towards the transformation of my confidence," she added. "I turned to the environment and nature for comfort and distraction."

The online poll, of 2,133 adults - of which 226 were aged 16-24 - was carried out in February.

Hayley Jarvis, head of physical activity for the mental health charity Mind, said outdoor activities could be a great way to improve mental wellbeing.

She said: "The colours, sounds and smells we find outdoors stimulate our senses in a different way and can boost our mood.

"Getting away from modern life and into a relaxing outside space can allow us to switch off from everyday pressures, help relieve stress, and give us time to clear our heads."

A Defra spokesperson said: "Our Environmental Improvement Plan sets out our commitment for every household to be within a 15-minute walk of a green space or water - and this commitment reflects the ongoing work across government to deliver better access to nature across all sections of society."

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