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Improving wellbeing through nature contact on Kangaroo Island

News release
10 March 2016

Kangaroo Island has successfully published a scientific paper demonstrating the link between wellbeing and contact with nature.

Natural Resources Kangaroo Island (NRKI) together with key health and employment agencies on Kangaroo Island have successfully run a project to engage marginalised members of the community in environmental projects to improve wellbeing and environmental awareness.

A total of 32 people (aged 14-71) undertook 1015 hours of volunteering and training, of which 520 hours were spent assisting environmental projects on the island. Activities included, fauna surveys (glossy black-cockatoo, koalas, insects), tree planting, weed management, beach clean ups etc.

The project demonstrated measurable improvements in mood state and wellbeing, as well as improved understanding of the environment and the need to conserve it. Surveys were completed before and after activities and at the start and end of the program to determine changes.

Other benefits of the program included:

  • 31% gained employment
  • 50% joined a volunteer group at program completion.

Robyn Molsher, Wildlife Program Manager at NRKI, presented the findings at the World Parks Congress in Sydney and at the People, Parks and Wellbeing conference in Adelaide. A scientific paper has now been published in the Ecohealth journal.

Robyn said, “partnerships between environment and health agencies provide the ideal platform for obtaining wide-ranging benefits from environmental volunteering. The recently established MOU between DEWNR and the Department of Health will go a long way towards facilitating these types of partnerships.”

The project offered an innovative way to reap dual benefits for health and the environment through raising awareness of NRM issues and the need to conserve our biodiversity.

The project was a joint initiative of NRKI, KI Health Service, Regional Development Australia, Kangaroo Island Eco-Action and Finding Workable Solutions.

A Technical Report on the project can be downloaded from the NRKI website www.landscape.sa.gov.au/kangarooisland or contact Robyn Molsher, Wildlife Program Manager NRKI.

You can download the scientific paper at http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10393-015-1089-1

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