Introduction

Helping promote good mental health and protect New Zealand’s precious natural environment is the goal of a new agreement announced today by Conservation Minister Maggie Barry.

The partnership between the Department of Conservation and Mental Health Foundation has been sealed by the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding.

It will see both organisations work together to develop projects and connections which will improve mental health and wellbeing and benefit conservation efforts across the country.

“It’s fitting this significant new partnership has been signed during Conservation Week, which this year has the theme Healthy Nature, Healthy People,” Ms Barry says.

“The health benefits of getting out into the natural world cannot be underestimated, and the links with improved physical and mental health are proven and well-established. People feel less stressed, more relaxed and refreshed when they venture into the outdoors, whether they are exercising or helping to contribute to a worthwhile conservation project.”

DOC and the Foundation will identify projects which share conservation and mental health goals based on the Foundation’s Five Ways to Wellbeing.

“This has been a big year for conservation in New Zealand, with our Budget 2015 programme to save the kiwi, the launch of the War on Weeds, the creation of the Kermadec Ocean Sanctuary and the appointment of the country’s first Threatened Species Ambassador – I look forward to seeing how this new partnership contributes to our ongoing conservation efforts.”

“Healthy Nature, Healthy People is something New Zealanders will also be hearing more about – DOC plans to develop ways to improve people’s health, encourage them to get involved and enjoy the many different recreational and volunteering opportunities our conservation estate provides.”

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