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Majority of Canadians report being nurtured by nature during COVID-19

Last Updated Jan 31, 2021 at 8:37 am PST

The Golden Ears Mountains as seen from the NEWS 1130 Air Patrol in December of 2020 (Riley Phillips, NEWS 1130 photo)
Summary

Ninety-four per cent of Canadians surveyed said nature has helped them relax during the pandemic

Eighty-six per cent of those polled said time outdoors has been important for maintaining mental health

Ninety-one per cent of respondents say protecting, caring for nature more important than ever

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Canadians trying to cope with the stress, anxiety, and restrictions ushered in by the COVID-19 pandemic are increasingly finding comfort and relief in nature, according to a new survey by the Nature Conservancy of Canada.

Spokesperson Nancy Newhouse said the results of the Ipsos poll were “pretty incredible.”

The poll found 94 per cent of Canadians surveyed said nature has helped them relax, with 86 per cent saying time outdoors has been important for maintaining mental health. Three out of four people said spending time in nature has become more important to them. More than half said spending time outdoors is part of their plan to get through the winter months.

RELATED: B.C. health-care workers offered free ‘forest bathing’ to relieve COVID-19 stress

Women, Newhouse pointed out, have been slightly more likely than men to get outside.

“It did find that women who’ve been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 have turned to nature more often than men. But both men and women have certainly looked to nature to provide that space to gather and to enjoy quiet time,” she says.

This rising interest in exploring nature corresponds with an increased desire to see it protected, with 91 per cent of respondents saying investment preserving and restoring natural spaces is a priority now more than ever.

“I think it’s this realization as we’ve had more time to actually be thinking about the importance of nature to our mental health, and to our physical well being. I think we’re starting to really think about how we collectively care for and nurture that relationship,” Newhouse says.

“People are a part of the land system and I think the more time that we can spend in that system and understanding the benefits that it brings us for food and water, the better chance we have of making sure that it’s here forever.”

The survey coincides with the end of the Conservancy’s biggest fundraising drive to protect Canada’s natural spaces. That drive raised $750 million which allows the organization to protect an area more than three and a half times the size of Vancouver Island.

With files from Kurtis Doering