Are you stressed at work? Getting migraines from extended screen time? Easily-distracted? The Doctor called and prescribed a solid dose of Nature. All ages are allowed an unlimited subscription to this prescription.
The side effects of laughter spread through the World Conservation Congress audience as we viewed the following Nature Rx video.
The panel speaker/producer Justin Bogardus and his college friends in the video couldn’t have predicted the success. I even recognized the viral video shared by friends on my Facebook newsfeed. Behind the humour and parody is good science. A strong dose of Nature does lead to a greater sense of wellbeing and better environmental decision-making.
So far in the Congress, I find that speakers covered great ways to increase our dosage of Nature: Nature schools, Nature networks and Nature plays. Each one can reconnect us to what matters most.
Nature schools in Finland and Big Island
Can building a fort outside be therapeutic? For youth aged 1 to 18, the Finnish Nature School provides full-immersion into Nature. Students gain outdoors skills, like fire-making or foraging forests for edible food. The director Bernt Nordham shared the development of hands-on experiences. Even traditional subjects like math, arts and science are taught through experiments.
Similarly the Keauhou Ranch on Big Island aims to connect youth to Nature. They are learning to become land stewards. When visiting with the Pre-Congress for Young Professionals, Evi showed us the outdoor learning space while planting native trees.
Nature networks online
Can including technology in Nature help us connect with it?
Today’s young generation (a.k.a “digital natives”) have nature around the world at their fingertips. In the Pavilions of the Congress, ocean life was shown through virtual reality. Google and the World Commission on Protected Areas shared their 3D Underwater Streetview. (On a smaller scale, the Finnish Nature school students use underwater GoPros in ponds attached to iPads.) Even US Parks Services has integrated PokémonGo in parks to get more people outdoors. To identify species, the Canadian Wildlife Federation helped create the iNaturalist App. At the #IUCNcongress, we’ve been using the #NatureFor All. Nature is in the virtual world!
Nature plays at the Congress
Connecting with youth keeps us young and when in nature, even younger. At the #NatureForAll Pavilion, there were daily morning Fireside Chats to discuss connection to Nature. A concept I often heard brought up is the term Nature Deficit Disorder, coined by authour Richard Louv in his book Last Child in the Woods. To him, Nature is the best medicine to encourage play in youth. The concept of Nature Plays was championed at the Congress by the Canadian Parks Council in the soft launch of the Nature Playbook. The #NatureForAll can be followed through social media our connection to Nature at the IUCN.
So, maybe you too can ask your doctor if an extra dose of Nature is right for you?