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nature for health & recreation

We are only just beginning to understand the effect of nature on human health. According to the mental health charity Mind, one in six of the UK population suffers from depression, anxiety, stress, phobias, suicidal impulses, obsessive compulsive disorders and panic attacks.

This costs the National Health Service £12.5 billion, the economy £23.1 billion in lost output, and £41.8 billion in the human costs of reduced quality of life and loss of life. 

Studies show that symptoms of all these disorders are alleviated with time spent in nature. Even the sight of nature has curative effects. Health Services have found that hospital patients need fewer painkillers after surgery and recover much faster if they have views of nature from their bed. Leeds Beckett University showed that wildlife programmes designed for people with a health or social need showed a return of £6.88 for every £1 invested.  

We need wild spaces – not just parks and gardens, but areas of our countryside that are teeming with wildlife. This human connection with dynamic, wild places is something that stems from the most primal part of our brain, when we evolved as hunter-gatherers on the savannas of Africa.   

The feedback we get from visitors coming on our safaris, staying at our campsite and walking our public footpaths is a joy. It seems the more urbanised we become as a society, the more we like and need to spend our spare time immersed in nature. Nothing, of course, brought home the restorative effects of nature more than COVID and Knepp received unprecedented numbers of visitors after the long lockdowns. 

Further Information

Bird, W. ‘Natural Thinking – investigating the links between the natural environment, biodiversity and mental health’. A report for the RSPB. (June 2007)

Kaplan, S. ‘The restorative effects of nature – toward an integrative framework.’ Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol 15, pp. 169-182. (1995)

Orians, G.H. and Heerwagen, J.H. ‘Evolved responses to landscapes’. In: Barkow, J.H., Cosmides, L., and Tooby, J. (eds) The Adapted Mind Evolutionary Psychology and the Generation of Culture, pp. 555-579. (Oxford University Press, 1993)

Pyle, RM. ‘The extinction of experience’. Horticulture, vol 56, pp. 64-67 (1978)

Ulrich, R.S. ‘Aesthetic and affective response to natural environment’. In: Altman, I., and Wohlwill, J.F (eds) Behaviour and the Natural Environment, pp. 85-125(Plenum, New York, 1983)

Ulrich, R., et al. ‘Stress recovery during exposure to natural and urban environments’. Journal of Environmental Psychology, vol. 11, pp. 201-230. (1991)

‘Estimating local mortality burdens associated with particulate air pollution’. Public Health England report. (9 April 2014)

Chen, H., et al. ‘Living near major roads and the incidence of dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and multiple sclerosis: a population-based cohort study’. The Lancet, vol 389, no. 10070, pp. 718-726. (18 February 2017)
 A Natural Health Service, Prescribing nature works – and is excellent value for money:   

Nature and mental health  

Thriving With Nature   

Nature and mental health: An ecosystem service perspective   
Improving access  to greenspace A new review for 2020, Public Health England  

Our 12+ Policy

Knepp Wildland Safaris and campsite are all about the quiet and patient observation of nature.

Some of the species we are likely to encounter are shy or can be frightened by loud noises or sudden movements. Our campsite with open-air fire-pits, wood-burning stoves and an on-site pond is unsuitable for small children.

For this reason, our safaris, holiday cottages and campsite are suitable only for children of 12 and over.

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