Conservation Week is a key annual project for the DOC, which has a long-standing partnership with the Mental Health Foundation (MFH) through Healthy Nature, Healthy People. This year’s ‘Nature through new eyes’ theme stems from New Zealand’s COVID-19 lockdowns when people slowed down and looked at their lives and the world around them in different and more reflective ways.
Shaun Robinson, MHF’s Chief Executive says: “We have always supported Conservation Week and its kaupapa. This year’s theme – ‘Nature through new eyes’ – is a timely reminder that while the world has changed, nature is there for us to help us recharge and reconnect. Being in nature improves your wellbeing considerably.
“COVID-19 lockdowns mean we need to look at nature with new eyes and find opportunities to connect with it in new ways – outside our windows, in our neighbourhoods.
“Take the time to observe something as simple as tui singing, trees blossoming or leaves blowing in the wind. A walk to your local reserve or park at different times of the day will provide opportunities for observing the changing elements of nature. Take notice of how these small moments with nature make you feel and try to find more of these moments in your day.
“It’s clear that 2020 has delivered many challenges to people’s wellbeing, but one thing remains constant; our natural landscape is accessible, bountiful and helps to heal us when we’re distressed.”
Lou Sanson, DOC’s Director General, welcomed the MFH’s endorsement of the Conservation Week message.
“Our two organisations share common goals – most importantly, improving people’s wellbeing and mental health.
“The existing Healthy Nature, Healthy People partnership emphasises the wellbeing values and aspirations of our organisations, and our Conservation Week push to get people out into nature builds on that collaboration and its cornerstones.”
Lou Sanson says the Conservation Week message encourages people to immerse themselves in nature, “and embrace what’s always been there – look, listen, breathe and feel – and explore the relationship with nature and how it can benefit you”.
“Take a little time in nature for your wellbeing, and if you can, give a little back to nature for its wellbeing. Papatūānuku’s wellbeing is our wellbeing.”
New Zealand’s current COVID-19 Alert Levels do place some restrictions on the movements of Auckland residents, with the city at Alert Level 3.
You can do low-risk recreation activities in your local area, for example go for a walk or a run, a swim at the beach or a day walk. You can do recreational activities by yourself or with people from your bubble.
People enjoying time in nature should stay within their bubbles and ensure they maintain social distance from others.
Across the rest of New Zealand, COVID-19 Alert Level 2 rules allow for usual outdoor activities, with appropriate social distancing.
For more on Conservation Week 2020, visit www.conservationweek.org.nz, or DOC’s Facebook and Instagram channels.