Dr Amir Khan says helping our butterflies helps our own mental health

Helping our butterflies helps our own mental health says Dr Amir Khan as research shows 83% of people surveyed took time to notice pollinators during last spring’s lockdown

Wildlife charity Butterfly Conservation is launching its Nurture for Nature campaign today, in partnership with Dobbies Garden Centres, in a bid to encourage more people to look after themselves by looking after the natural world this spring.

Spending time in nature is hugely beneficial to our mental health. Just a short amount of time spent in the natural world can alleviate stress and connecting with nature can help us feel happier and more energised. Spending time watching butterflies and moths in flight, for example, can be a wonderful and calming experience. Looking after the natural world will ensure that such benefits continue. This is truly a win-win situation for all of us.

Dr Amir Khan, Butterfly Conservation Ambassador, urged people to join in with the campaign: “As we head into spring again, we must remember how our increased connectedness with nature during the warmer months of last year really helped us. Like a butterfly that exists as a tiny egg over winter, the promise of spring has been with us during the winter months, and now it’s back there’s plenty we can do to feel inspired by and part of the wildlife around us.”

An increasing number of people have rediscovered nature during the lockdowns. Research undertaken at the University of Cumbria, involving over 700 participants last year, shows that the spring lockdown of 2020 created an increased desire to spend more time outdoors where possible. The number of respondents who reported spending more than one-and-a-half hours per day in nature rose from 27% before lockdown to 45% during the lockdown. In addition, 67% of respondents reported actively speaking about nature to friends and family more often during lockdown, while 83% of respondents had specifically taken time to notice butterflies and/or bees. In light of this data Butterfly Conservation is urging people to look after their own corners of the natural world to encourage nature to thrive and so continue to comfort and inspire us.

Nurture For Nature means building a natural world which supports butterflies and moths. This is because, as well as being important pollinators, butterflies and moths also form vital parts of the complex  ecosystems which support the birds who sing in our gardens and the mammals who populate our countryside. Their continuing declines are very worrying for our wildlife as a whole. But there are things that we can do to help boost their numbers.

Dr Kate Dent, Director of Engagement at Butterfly Conservation said: “As spring finally arrives we can all do our little bit towards helping butterflies, wherever we live, in the knowledge that it’s helping our mental health too. Whether it’s caring for herb seedlings
in a window box, planting wildflowers in your garden or learning afresh how to breathe and feel the gift of nature in our local green spaces.”

Marcus Eyles, Horticultural Director for Dobbies, the official partner for Nurture for Nature, said: “Dobbies is committed to communicating the importance of supporting garden wildlife, health and wellbeing, sustainable practices and environmentally-friendly  products. We are proud to support Butterfly Conservation with this important campaign and hope people of all ages gain valuable insight from the advice and recommendations we share over the coming weeks.”

Find out how to look after yourself, your family and nature this spring at www.butterfly-conservation.org/nurturefornature and access your FREE downloadable guide to wellbeing activities and green-fingered ideas.

The importance of conservation

76% of the UK’s butterfly species have declined in either abundance or occurrence (or both) over the 40 years, while numbers of UK larger moths have declined by over 30% in the last 50 years. For more information or an interview with Dr Amir Khan, Dr Kate Dent or Marcus Eyles contact the Butterfly Conservation Communications Office on 01929 406025 or email news@butterfly-conservation.org

More information, including a 16-page downloadable free booklet can be found at www.butterfly-conservation.org/nurturefornature (from 13 April).

Butterfly Conservation is the UK charity dedicated to saving butterflies, moths and our environment. Our research provides advice on how to conserve and restore habitats. We run projects to protect more than 100 threatened species and we are involved in conserving hundreds of sites and reserves. Find out more at www.butterfly-conservation.org or follow us on social media @savebutterflies.

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