Strategic Research Groups Round Up of Recent Research, Policy and Practice - February 2017

Purpose: round up of recent and relevant evidence and reports, policy agenda developments, large scale delivery sector initiatives, resources and news items. This supports the Strategic Research Groups for Learning in Natural Environments and Outdoors for All to develop better coherence and collaboration in research and to improve links between research, policy and practice in these areas.

Key audience: Strategic Research Group members and increasingly colleagues across policy and delivery sectors too.

Collated and issued by the partnership of Natural England, The Council for Learning Outside the Classroom and Historic England on behalf of and for the Strategic Research Groups.

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Natural Environment and People evidence round up  - February 2017
Welcome to the latest round up of information for December. Contributions featuring members of the SRGs are highlighted in green below.

We are conscious that this is a long document as we have attempted to capture a wide range of information that may be of interest. As always we would welcome your feedback on whether this is useful as a way of sharing information or whether it duplicates something that already exists?  Any suggestions for improvements are welcome. 

If you have your own work or others that would be of interest please do send it to Martin Gilchrist, at any time for inclusion in the next round up.

Many thanks
Martin Gilchrist, Sarah Preston and Anne Hunt   

This round up has the following sections



Is Variety the Spice of Life? An Experimental Investigation into the Effects of Species Richness on Self-Reported Mental Well-Being
Wolf, zu Ermggassen, Balmford, White and Weinstein. Plos One
This study demonstrates that greater plant and animal species richness in isolation causes an improvement in mental well-being. To do so, the present research experimentally manipulated species richness and assessed widely-used indicators of mental well-being. Findings are discussed in light of the importance of connecting people to biodiverse environments
Emotional processing as an important part of the wildlife viewing experience
D McIntosh, PA Wright - Journal of Outdoor Recreation and Tourism, 2017
This research examined wildlife viewing experiences in the Canadian Rocky Mountain National Parks to identify which factors contribute to a meaningful wildlife viewing experience and to explore the value and meaning of that experience. Findings suggest that truly meaningful wildlife experiences may be developed through a series of stages from pre-encounter, to the actual encounter, to post-encounter and finally, longer-term reflection.
Bird diversity improves the well-being of city residents
M Hedblom, I Knez, B Gunnarsson – book chapter in Ecology and Conservation of Birds in Urban Environments 2017
Humans are increasingly becoming urbanized. Because a number of bird species readily live in urban areas and birds are relatively easily observed, birds are becoming the largest everyday encounter with wild fauna people will have, globally. Here we review extant literature to consider why certain species fascinate humans more than others, and some can increase well-being and provide ecosystem services, while others offer disservices through unappealing characteristics. We particularly highlight indications of links between species diversity and well-being. Finally, we discuss possible reasons for variations in our responses to birds and birdsong associated with age, gender, childhood, contact with nature, and the biophilia theory.
Tourists at the seaside: Exploring the spiritual dimension
D Jarratt, R Sharpley - Tourist Studies, 2017
In increasingly secular modern societies, many forms of tourism represent a sacred journey that has the potential to fulfil the contemporary tourist’s spiritual needs. Drawing on research in Morecambe, a traditional seaside resort in the north-west of England, this paper seeks to identify the extent to which the seaside environment, in general, and the sea in particular, endow the touristic experience of the resort with emotional or spiritual significance. A number of clear themes emerge from the research that point to a spiritual dimension of the seaside experience, including a sense of connection, awesomeness, timelessness and nothingness.
The Spiritual and Cultural Significance of Nature: Inspiring Connections between People and Parks
E Bernbaum - chapter in book - Science, Conservation, and National Parks, 2017
How the use of a school garden learning environment with at-risk high school environmental science students impacts their connection to nature
S Stevens – Thesis 2016
The purpose of this research was to see if the use of a school garden to teach Environmental Science students about ecology could increase their connection to nature, and to reduce their fears of undesirable organisms. Quantitative results showed a statistically significant change in empathy for organisms only. All other categories showed no statistical significant change. Qualitative data revealed more insight, by showing that several students associate nature experiences with enjoyment and gaining an understanding of the purpose to certain organisms reduced some student’s fears.
Connecting People to Nature: Today's Regional Park Systems
L Wilson - George Wright Forum, 2016
Focussing on regional (often urban located) rather than national parks
Book - Nature Tourism
JS Chen and NK Prebensen
Nature Tourism augments the current literature on the benefits and pitfalls in recent developments of nature tourism, tracing the history in development, highlighting the ecological impacts and showcasing the current practices in nature tourism along with discussions on specific tourist markets from holistic viewpoints embracing lessons learning from various destination nations and continents across the globe. A host of topics with global significance will be explored
Psychological values and cues as a basis for developing socially relevant criteria and indicators for forest management
RM Ford et al - Forest Policy and Economics, 2017
We demonstrate a new bottom-up approach to developing socially relevant Criteria and indicators (C & I) using social analysis and psychology-based concepts and methods. Seven broad valued attributes of forests were identified: Natural; Experiential; Productive; Setting; Social/Economic; Learning; and Cultural. Four broad categories of cues were identified: Biophysical; Social/Psychological; Economic; and Management/Planning. Our approach demonstrates a new way of developing C & I and has a strong conceptual basis that enables more explicit consideration and communication of a comprehensive range of social values and cues in environmental management systems.
Connecting to place
K Wilkinson - Every Child, 2016
Educators understand that gardens and outdoor play spaces are essential to quality environments for young children. Outdoor play provides a wealth of opportunities for children's learning and development and play in nature is also an avenue for fostering sustainability. In this article shares how families have come to understand this through a simple practice change at a centre that connected children and families with place
Education for sustainability using a campus eco-garden as a learning environment
CC Cheang et al - International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education 2017
This paper aims to explore stakeholder perspectives of the role of a campus eco-garden in education for sustainability (EfS). All three stakeholder groups expected cognitive learning of EfS to be enhanced by the eco-garden. The use of affective learning was not strongly expected by the stakeholders. Psychomotor learning was believed to be the most difficult to realize. To fulfil the potential of the eco-garden in EfS, all stakeholders suggested learning activities and roles for both students and teachers.
School-Based Experiential Outdoor Education: A Neglected Necessity
JK James, T Williams - Journal of Experiential Education, 2017
In this research study, we hear the voices of middle school students, preservice teachers, and practicing middle school teachers in support of school-based experiential outdoor education.. This research addresses the question, “Is experiential outdoor education for middle school–aged students a valuable use of school time?” The answer is a resounding “YES!” School-based experiential outdoor education, although often neglected as a part of the curriculum in our current era of high-stakes test-based accountability, is definitely a necessity
Grounds for Learning: Schoolyard Activities as Provocations, Scaffolds and Mediators for Childhood Learning
P Johnson - Australian Journal of Environmental Education, 2017
This doctoral thesis is a response to evidence that childhood experiences of nature influence learning and wellbeing. It reports on primary school children’s self-chosen recess and lunchtime activities in a naturalised outer-suburban school that was conceived, developed, and maintained as an educational resource
Loving Learning: The Value of Play Within Contemporary Primary School Pedagogy
D O'Connor – chapter in Multidisciplinary Perspectives on Play from Birth and Beyond, 2017
This chapter draws on established literature surrounding children’s play and how children learn. It also presents some topic-specific findings from two recent studies. The participants included almost 1700 families and 240 communities throughout Ireland. The generational changes in play were a recurring theme within the findings with the vast majority of parents expressing that they had more freedom and more time outdoors than their children do.
Developing students'ability of mathematical connection through using outdoor mathematics learning
S Haji, MI Abdullah, S Maizora, Y Yumiati - Infinity Journal, 2017
The Purpose of this study is to determine the achievement and improvement of students’ mathematical connectionability through using outdoor mathematics learning. The results of the study found there is an increasing ability found in mathematical connection of students whom taught by using outdoors mathematics.
Implication of outdoor environment on children's physical activity performance levels and learning in public pre-schools in Kenya
GN Ayaga – PhD Thesis 2016
This descriptive survey study adopted Vygotsky’s (1978) Socio-cultural theory in examining the implication of outdoor environment on children’s physical activity performance levels and learning in public pre-schools. The study found that; the general state of outdoor environment component was unsatisfactory; there was a relatively weak relationship between availability, adequacy, effectiveness, and location of various components of outdoor environment in ECDE centres, and the ability of pre-school children’s ability to performing various loco-motor activities and rhythmic movement activities. Additionally, it was indicated that a rich outdoor environment had a positive influence on pre-school children‘s development of various skills.
Engaging children with nature through environmental HCI
R Anggarendra, M Brereton - Proceedings of the 28th Australian Conference on Computer-Human Interaction, 2016
This paper examined literature and known projects in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and related fields that aim to facilitate children's interaction with the natural world through technology. We identified three major types of technology use, instructional, exploratory and contributory: (1) Instructional technology to enhance and enable structured science curriculum activities in outdoor environments; (2) Exploratory technology to encourage children to explore outdoors in nature; (3) Contributory technology to engage children in contributing to citizen science activities.
Google expeditions and fieldwork: friends or foes?
AD Tudor, S Minocha, S Tilling, R Needham, M Cutler - ASE (The Association for Science Education, UK) Annual Conference 2017
Google Expeditions is a Virtual Reality (VR) approach being promoted by Google in schools globally. Google Expeditions are guided tours (field trips) of places that students experience on a smartphone through a virtual reality viewer called Google cardboard. Are Google Expeditions a threat to traditional field trips or could they become a complementary tool for strengthening the quality of outdoor learning, for example by providing an immersive technology which adds context and substance to pre-field preparation, in-field activities and post-field revision and reflection?
Challenges in conducting natural experiments in parks—lessons from the REVAMP study
J Veitch et al - International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity, 2017
Parks provide opportunities for physical activity; however, there is little robust evidence on the impact of park refurbishment. Such an opportunity was provided by the modification of a large park in Victoria, Australia in 2013 when the Recording and EValuating Activity in a Modified Park (REVAMP) study was established. Based on insights from the REVAMP study, this paper discusses challenges involved in conducting natural experiments in park settings, focussing on issues that may help design more effective future evaluations of the impact of park refurbishment..
Extending Classrooms into Parks Through Informal Science Learning and Place-Based Education
JD Adams, B Branco – book chapter in Preparing Informal Science Educators, 2017
Parks offer unique opportunities for authentic science learning in that learners interact with diverse ecosystems within urban settings and engage in authentic data collection practices while making salient connections to place. In urban settings where greenspace is often a premium, parks are opportunities for educators to facilitate experiences with nature that are unparalleled in the classroom. In order to make the most of parks and other similar spaces we ask, in what ways can we engage learners in these environments?
Book  - Reimagining Sustainability in Precarious Times, 2017
Various chapters including  
Green inclusion: biophilia as a necessity
A Stavrianos - British Journal of Special Education, 2016
This article argues that there is a strong link between the pedagogy for inclusion and the pedagogy of environmental education and tries to identify any benefits that could be acquired by pupils when the school system tries to use environmental educational programmes to promote inclusion.
Creative Movement as an Approach to Learning Science in the Preschool Period
M Kos, G Schmidt, J Jerman – Psychology and Research, 2016
Moving and sensory consciousness are the main ways children learn about their world and themselves. Learning is facilitated when a child’s entire body is involved. The outdoor environment is an ideal place for children to play and learn, since it offers an incredible wealth of sensory experiences. Preschool children were offered a direct early science experience and the chance to express it through creative movement. Through direct contact with nature and expression through movement we achieved increased focus in the child’s on an animal, plant, or natural phenomenon. An early science experience changed the child’s way of observing nature.
Preschool Children's Mathematical Experiences in Outdoor Play
İG OĞUL, YA ARNAS - Developments in Educational Sciences
Are mathematical experiences limited with classroom environment? Mathematics is associated with various activities making as part of daily life. Mathematical knowledge can be gained not only in classroom activities but also outdoor activities
Sailing as an Intervention
M MacLachlan – book chapter in Maritime Psychology, 2017
We focus on sailing as a context for promoting self-development and as a context for therapeutic or rehabilitative interventions. We review research on educational sail training and sailing for marginalized groups, people with disabilities or with mental health problems. A series of research questions is posed to evaluate and develop the potential of sailing as an intervention in these domains, and within the domain of enhancing corporate performance.
Children Learning Outside the Classroom: From Birth to Eleven
Book - edited by Sue Waite
Learning outside the classroom is increasingly seen as beneficial in both early years and primary settings, and it is becoming embedded in the curriculum, but what are the benefits of this approach? What do children learn from being outside the classroom?  This book explores why learning beyond the classroom is important for children, and offers practical examples of how to improve outdoor learning experiences for all children. In the face of the increasing restriction of children's outdoor experiences, it will help the reader rise to the challenge of finding creative opportunities for working across the curriculum through outdoor activities.
Urban green spaces and health - a review of evidence (2016)
This WHO report summarizes evidence of health benefits, discusses pathways to health and evaluates health-relevant indicators of urban green space. An example of green space accessibility indicator with a detailed methodological tool kit is provided at the end of the report. Authors include Catherine Ward-Thompson and Ben Wheeler.
Contributions to conservation outcomes by natural history museum-led citizen science: Examining evidence and next steps
Ballard et al. Biological Conservation
Through their unique combination of specimen collections, scientific and public education expertise, and wide audience reach and trust, natural history museums (NHMs) are obvious settings for bridging conservation science and education through citizen science.  We analyzed 44 citizen science programs across three museums (one U.K., two U.S.) to assess whether and how they contribute to conservation-relevant outcomes. We found evidence that they support conservation both directly, through site and species management, and indirectly through research, education and policy impacts.
The benefits of green space
Publication from the Land Trust, which uses a natural capital accounting approach.  
Cities, Green Space, and Mental Well-Being
Jenny Roe - Oxford Research Encyclopaedias of Environmental Science
Mental and behavioral disorders account for approximately 7.4% of the global burden of disease, with depression now the world’s leading cause of disability. City planning and design holds much promise for reducing this burden of disease, and for offering solutions that are affordable, accessible and equitable. This article brings together evidence of the positive effects of urban green space on common mental health problems (i.e. stress, anxiety, depression) together with evidence of its role in the symptom relief of specific psychiatric disorders, including schizophrenia and psychosis, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), dementia, attention deficit/hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and autism.
The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health released a report on the state of child health.
The report presents a comprehensive list of 25 measures of the health of UK children to provide an ‘across the board’ snapshot of child health and wellbeing in the UK. The report finds that children living in the most deprived areas are more likely to be in poor health, be overweight or obese, suffer from asthma, have poorly managed diabetes, experience mental health problems and die early. The report outlines key actions that should be taken by UK governments to improve children’s health.
Research for All
Editors Sophie Duncan and Sandy Oliver
Research for All is a new open-access journal that focuses on the importance of public engagement to research and provides a platform for creative thinking about how and where academic disciplines meet with real-world problems. Academic analysis, practical commentary and case studies provide critical reflection on how research can be conceived, developed, disseminated and applied in partnership with those not formally involved in the research community. Peer-reviewed contributions, many co-written by academic and non-academic partners, feature engagement in research carried out in any field of study, with collaborators in any chosen community, industry or organization and in any part of the world. Research for All is free to write for and free to read. We invite contributions about engaged research in any area of study at any time
From - British Social Attitudes Survey 2015: Public attitudes towards transport
64% of people think it’s ‘too dangerous to cycle’
Nearly two thirds of people think it is too dangerous to cycle according to a new statistical release by the Department for Transport. Public attitudes towards transport are surveyed. Women, non-cyclists and older age groups showed higher levels of concern over roads being too dangerous to cycle. In addition, nearly half of those who do cycle still see the roads as dangerous.

Reconomics Plus
The Sport and Recreation Alliance has launched Reconomics Plus, an online resource to help sport and recreation organisations demonstrate the impact of their work on the economy, our health and local communities. This new resource brings together the latest research and statistics, produced in partnership with Manchester Metropolitan University, to highlight the contribution of outdoor recreation in England.
Chief Medical Officer's recommendations for physical activity and infographics
The key messages for adults are that:
  • it's never too late to start
  • getting moderately active in any combination of 10' bouts counts
  • being moderately active means getting you heart rate and breathing up (so things like brisk walking count; you should be able to hold a conversation but not sing)
  • the biggest health gains come from getting inactive people doing something
RTPI: Good local planning is key to controlling dementia cost
Costs will quickly increase unless there is better planning of local environments to help people with dementia live independently, says the RTPI. In the practice note Dementia and town planning, the RTPI states that local planning can play a much stronger role in creating dementia-friendly communities across the UK to ensure that people with dementia can stay in their own home for as long as possible.
Manifesto for the Green Mind
Jules Pretty - Resurgence and Ecologist
Jules Pretty and colleagues call for a revolution to bring Nature into our lives
Taking a trip into nature: What can LSD tell us about the brain and nature connection?
Blog by Miles Richardson
Expanding & Enriching Relationships in Place-Based Education
Blog by Jillian Judson
'A renewed connection with nature is key both to good health and to solving our climate and environmental crises'
Short Film – 2 mins 27 seconds that illustrates how we’ve lost touch with nature and presents a compelling case that reconnecting with the natural world is the key to improving personal health and ensuring our survival on earth
URBAN FOOD STREET™ is an urban design project that pushes the boundaries of suburban living, by redefining the traditional role of the residential street. Seeded in 2009, URBAN FOOD STREET is Australia's only neighbourhood that grows commercial quantities of fresh spray-free, fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices on the street edgeHowever, it isn't about the food we grow in the street, but rather about creating suburban streets for people to live in that are socially active and engaged, environmentally sustainable, climatically comfortable and aesthetically and functionally rewarding. Streets that promote optimal health and wellbeing in the suburban context by making the act of daily living, healthier
Researchers seek evidence on gardens and well-being
BBC Science news online 29/01/2017
A project aims to investigate the social case for gardens and what impact they have on health and well-being. There is growing evidence for the environmental and health benefits of gardens and gardening. Access to green spaces has been linked to reduced depression, anxiety and stress, as well as physical benefits. Researchers at the University of Sheffield want to compile evidence on the therapeutic effects of gardens from the public. The the gap in knowledge is currently the contributions private gardens make to the health and well-being agenda.
Partnership Helping to Manage Cornwall’s Environment
Work has been continuing to build connections between policy makers and practitioners responsible for green spaces, and researchers investigating the benefits to health and the environment in these spaces. This work is helping to inform the management of the County's world-class natural habitats, for the benefit of both biodiversity and human health and wellbeing. This application of science into practice is funded by the Economic & Social Research Council.
2017 Devon Outdoor Learning Conference
Friday 17 March - Buckfast Abbey Conference Centre
Organised by the Devon Education for Sustainability Working Group (DESWG) this conference is aimed at educators at every stage of learning who seek inspiration and support to develop outdoor learning and environmental education. 
Launch event for the findings of the report ‘European Perceptions of Climate Change’
Wednesday 8th March, London
A major European survey of climate change and energy beliefs in Great Britain, Germany, France and Norway. The survey was conducted in June 2016 by Ipsos-Mori, funded through the Joint Programme Initiative on Climate Change (JPI-Climate).
European Conference on “Biodiversity and Health in the Face of Climate Change”
Extended call for contributions for the 27-29 June 2017, in Bonn/Germany.
Extended deadline for abstracts February 28 
Social prescribing: from rhetoric to reality
18 May 2017, London
This event, run in partnership with the Social Prescribing Network and the College of Medicine, brings together national leaders and innovative local areas to provide a platform for enabling strategic collaboration and sharing of best practice. Throughout the day we will be exploring the range of benefits of social prescribing, and how best to measure and evaluate the impact and outcomes. Pioneering local areas will showcase their approach, challenges and achievements, and provide practical resources for commissioners and practitioners to develop in their own locality
A call for a special edition looking at health and wellbeing and nature-based experiences for ‘Frontiers in Psychology’.
Guest Editors – Eric Brymer, Miles Richardson, Lizzie Freeman
In recent years, there has been a growing body of evidence from fields such as public health, architecture, ecology, landscape, forestry, psychology, sport science, psychiatry, and geography suggesting that nature enhances psychological health and wellbeing.  This Research Topic therefore aims to bring together cutting edge ideas and research from a wide set of disciplines with the purpose of exploring interdisciplinary or trans-disciplinary approaches to understanding the psychological health and wellbeing benefits of human-nature interactions.
The latest call for proposals for a Special Issue of Environmental Education Research on: “Critical Investigations of the Research-Policy Relationship in Environmental and Sustainability Education”
Guest editors: Mark Rickinson & Marcia McKenzie
The purpose of this Special Issue is to draw and build upon:
  • the growing interest in policy and policy research within the environmental and sustainability education (ESE) research field;
  • the increasing body of work on the research-policy relationship in fields beyond ESE;
  • the need to bring these two developments into conversation and debate, against the backdrop of developments in monitoring and evaluation aims in international ESE policy.

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