New poll reveals that Sheffield’s city-dwellers love nature but don’t get enough of it

Thursday 1st June 2017

A new poll of 201 people living in Sheffield reveals that city-dwellers have a strong affinity for nature and think that it’s important to help care for it. But the poll also highlights a conflict: while city-dwellers feel that nature is important to them, they find it hard to connect with it as much as they’d like to and a high proportion of people want to see more nature in cities.

The survey comes at a time when we have stronger evidence than ever before that nature is good for us and makes us happy.* However, people feel increasingly disconnected from nature and not enough is being done to ensure that the places where most people actually live and work – our cities – have thriving wildlife.

The poll reveals:

  • 90% of Sheffield’s city-dwellers feel that nature is important to them but 81% of them don’t think that they spend enough time in nature
  • Just 24% said that the last ‘wow’ moment they had with nature was in their local city area – while 60% of people’s most recent special moments with nature were from elsewhere, such as televi-sion, holidays and visits to the countryside. Only 8% have enjoyed a wild place as part of their working day in the last week
  • 95% of adults think it’s important to help nature - 60% report doing something to help it in their garden - and 82% of adults want to see more nature in Sheffield.

The poll results are released as The Wildlife Trusts launch their 30 Days Wild challenge running throughout June, encouraging people to commit Random Acts of Wildness – daily connections with nature – every day for thirty days. More than 37,000 have pledged to do this so far including 3,000 schools and 1,000 businesses.

Liz Ballard, CEO at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, said:

“The poll shows just how much the people of Sheffield love nature. And many of us are doing something to really help care for it – be it feeding the birds, wildlife friendly gardening – all these small actions really add up to a great deal.

“30 Days Wild is a great way to celebrate and enjoy our local wildlife, we really hope people will sign up and take part. Here at Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust, we are working hard to protect our precious local green spaces and connect people with nature and this poll reminds us of the importance of this work for the people of Sheffield.”

The Wildlife Trusts are urging everyone to take part in our 30 Days Wild challenge and have ‘wow’ moments every day during June. Discover the urban jungle - spot gorgeous goldfinches or ferns growing out of walls! Take action for nature by planting a mini-meadow in a window box or create a container pond!

Liz Ballard continued:

“Importantly the poll also shows that many people want to see more nature in Sheffield but struggle to take time out during their working day to enjoy a local green or wild space. Never-the-less many of us are still managing to stop and listen to birdsong or watch wildlife near our homes. Through 30 Days Wild we want more of Sheffield’s city-dwellers to make time for and be amazed by our local wildlife; the beauty of wild plants, sound of buzzing bees and birdsong over-head. Amazing wildlife moments are everywhere in Sheffield and 30 Days Wild is the perfect way to help people find them.

“Throughout June we’ll be sharing our ideas on social media every day and organising lots of op-portunities for people to do something wild. With 30 Days Wild you can make nature part of your life, at work as well as at home: less screen time, more green time!”

The impact of taking part in 30 Days Wild has been tracked by academics at the University of Derby. Their study* found that people who did something ‘wild’ each day for a month, felt happi-er, healthier and more connected to nature, with added benefits for the natural world too.

Dr Miles Richardson, Director of Psychology, who led the study, said:

“The impact of 30 Days Wild adds to the compelling argument for bringing nature into our every-day lives. Two months after taking part in 30 Days Wild, there was a 30 per cent increase in the number of people who reported their health as excellent. Last year’s results also show people’s happiness continued to improve after 30 Days Wild ended, which illustrates its sustained impact. This is important as it is happiness and connecting with nature that influence improvements in health. Our study also shows that those who benefitted most were younger adults and those who weren’t ‘nature lovers’.”

More on the poll results which was undertaken by YouGov here:

  • 90% of adults in Sheffield think that nature is important to them. They enjoy spending time in wild places (91%) and tend to feel relaxed in areas of wildlife/wild places (91%)
  • 81% of adults in Sheffield didn’t think that they spent enough time in nature
  • 24% said their last ‘wow’ moment (a moment when they were amazed by something they had seen or heard) with nature was in their local city area in Sheffield, with 59% of else-where people recalling ‘wow’ moments about nature from television (15%), while on holi-day (19%) and from visits to the countryside (21%)
  • 65% have stopped and noticed nature in the past week; 61% have watched wildlife near to their home or in their garden; 47% have stopped and listened to birdsong; 42% of peo-ple have visited an area of nature in the past week
  • 8% have enjoyed a wild place as part of their working day in the last week, either near to their workplace or in their lunchbreak, and 14% of adults said they had experienced none of these things in the past week
  • 82% of adults want to see more nature in their local area in Sheffield
  • 60% report doing something to help nature in their garden, whether that’s growing plants and flowers that insects can thrive on (52%); feeding the birds (42%); putting up nest boxes (23%) or having a pond (12%). 20% report not doing anything at all. 
  • 95% of adults think it’s important to help nature, but just 25% think that they’re doing eve-rything that they can. 70% want to do more, but for various reasons are struggling, for example 10% can’t find the time and 13% simply don’t know what they can do.

Take the 30 Days Wild Nature Challenge

  • Can you go wild every day for a whole month? Take the 30 Days Wild nature challenge this June with Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust.
  • Spend a few minutes, or a few hours each day enjoying nature on your doorstep - how you do it is up to you. Get a free 30 Days Wild pack - activities, wildflower seeds, chart, stickers (or download a pack without seeds). Schools can download specially tailored packs to support teachers, including outdoor lesson plans for literacy and numeracy, ac-tivity sheets and a large pack of Random Act of Wildness cards.
  • If you need some inspiration, join Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust - who will be sharing their wild ideas throughout June - on Facebook and Twitter, or come along to one of the Trust’s wild events such as wildlife gardening, nature reserve volunteer days and nature photography. Find out more and book your place at wildsheffield.com/whats-on