The power of Mother Nature: Why green space is vital to wellbeing

How Wales are leading the way with access to outdoor areas

Not only is the great outdoors good for keeping us physically fit, it is also proven to boost mood, reduce stress, restore attention capacity, and combat mental fatigue.

Yet while many of us are privileged to soak up the sunshine in gardens or at the local park, there are those who don’t live nearby to crucial outdoor areas and suffer as a result.

However, one woman is spearheading a movement that will enable everyone in society to feel the grass between their toes and meander amongst the trees.

[Credit: Mike Benna / Unsplash]

Meet Sophie Howe, the Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, who is embodying the role of Mother Nature literally as she fights for everyone’s right to access green spaces.

In particular, Ms Howe believes that all people should be able to connect with nature within a four-minute walk from their front door.

To coincide with National Tree Week, Howe is calling on the Welsh government to ensure people can access nature regardless of where they live as it should be a right not a privilege.  

The superwoman of the great outdoors has laid down requests in her Manifesto for the Future proposal, stating that there should be natural green space within 300m of every home which equates to a four-minute walk, short wheelchair journey, or one-minute cycle.

[Credit: Leo Rivas / Unsplash]

Not only this, Howe also wants to see greener communities and is pushing for more trees to be planted in every town and city in Wales by 2030.

“Greening our spaces can give people access to those smaller, day-to-day interactions with nature which we know have benefits for our health and wellbeing.”

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales

While trees are aesthetically pleasing and provide play areas for kids and pets, they are also powerhouses at reducing pollution and managing climate change.

They do this by producing oxygen, intercepting harmful particles from vehicle emissions, and controlling CO2 in the atmosphere which reduces the overall concentrations of greenhouse gases.

Speaking about her mission, Howe said she is striving to connect people through nature as well as invest in improving air quality to keep society well and reduce inequalities.

[Credit: Sophie Howe / Future Generations]

She explained: “Greening our spaces can give people access to those smaller, day-to-day interactions with nature which we know have benefits for our health and wellbeing, which is especially important during pandemic restrictions.

“Investing in nature helps us fight the climate and nature emergency and its effects – for instance, bolstering our defences against devastating threats like flooding.”

Fortunately, it seems Howe’s comrades are on side as the First Minister, Mark Drakeford, has announced plans to invest an impressive £5million into a National Forest next year to create areas of new woodland and help restore some of Wales’ unique and irreplaceable ancient woodlands.

Might be time to take that walk we’ve been putting off all weekend…

For more info, click here: Manifesto for the Future.


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