New research from the Wildlife Trusts reveals that prescribing contact with nature for people who have low levels of mental wellbeing is excellent value for money by improving people’s health and wellbeing.

Researchers at Leeds Beckett University analysed the social value of Wildlife Trusts’ nature conservation projects which offer outdoor volunteering opportunities and programmes that support people experiencing problems such as anxiety, stress or mild depression. The report draws on the conclusions of three years research which found that people participating in both sorts of outdoor nature conservation activities felt significantly better, both emotionally and physically, as a result. They needed, for example, fewer visits to GPs or felt more able to get back into work

The report – Social return on investment analysis of the health and wellbeing impacts of Wildlife Trust programmes calculates the social return on investment for every £1 invested in the two types of project and found that they are excellent value:

  • For every £1 invested in regular nature volunteering projects, which play a part in creating a healthy lifestyle by tackling problems like physical inactivity or loneliness, there is an £8.50 social return.  
  • For every £1 invested in specialised health or social needs projects, which connect people to nature and cost more to run, there is a £6.88 social return.