Healthy Nature Healthy People movement
Healthy Nature Healthy People is based on the successful Healthy Parks Healthy People programme created by Parks Victoria in Australia in 2000. Many countries have since adopted similar programmes and DOC is leading Healthy Nature Healthy People in New Zealand.
The movement seeks to reinforce and encourage the connections between a healthy environment and a healthy society. The principles are:
- the wellbeing of all societies depends on healthy ecosystems
- parks nurture healthy ecosystems
- contact with nature is essential for improving emotional, physical and spiritual health and wellbeing, and
- parks are fundamental to economic growth and to vibrant and healthy communities.
The Healthy Nature, Healthy People movement is about promoting and strengthening the connection between health, wellbeing and nature.
As part of this movement in New Zealand, DOC and the Mental Health Foundation have partnered to raise awareness about the positive effects of getting out into nature for your mental health and wellbeing.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in November 2015. It forms the basis of our enduring relationship and a commitment to work together. We will explore ways to amplify and promote the importance of nature to the mental health and wellbeing of people.
We’ll be working together with other government agencies, NGOs, health services and providers, local government and parks organisations, as well as the private sector.
Initially, the focus is on raising awareness through our respective awareness campaigns. Our 2016 campaigns focused on enriching the lives of Kiwis through connecting with nature:
- the Conservation Week theme was Healthy Nature, Healthy People – Join the Team, and
- the Mental Health Awareness Week (October 2016) theme is Connect with nature – for good mental health and wellbeing.
Value of connecting with nature
There are many amazing wild and natural places in New Zealand for people to visit and enjoy. Personal experiences and connection with nature on a regular basis provide, amongst other things, powerful benefits for people's health and wellbeing.
Connecting with nature has been shown to improve concentration, attention and emotional functioning as well as buffering against stress, lowering cortisol levels (flight or fight response) and improves the immune system. It significantly improves mood, enhances wellbeing and provides greater life satisfaction.
If you would like to discover more about the Healthy Nature Healthy People initiative or explore opportunities to get involved in it, we’d love to hear from you.