Interior Secretary David Bernhardt on Wednesday temporarily waived National Park Service entrance fees to make it easier for people to get outdoors and “implement some social distancing.” The National Park Service says it’s adhering to the latest guidelines from the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, vowing to keep outdoor spaces open while giving park superintendents the power to close or modify operations.
In Ireland, the National Parks and Wildlife Service has raised concerns that people out walking in parks and elsewhere outdoors are failing to maintain advised social distancing to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.The parks service called on “individuals to avoid congregating closely in large groups, even in these outdoor areas,” and to maintain 6.5 feet between each person in walking groups.
Councilors in the Dutch city of Breda have launched a national campaign to give equal opportunities for outdoor play to children with disabilities. Breda is the latest Dutch city to raise the issue of an outdoor play provision for Dutch children. Over the next two years, the aim is to raise awareness of ‘play for everyone’ in the Netherlands, whether the child is able-bodied or disabled.
The 3rd Global Ministerial Conference on Road Safety (Ministerial Conference) held in Stockholm, Sweden has called on countries to impose mandatory 20mph limits in urban areas to help cut deaths and injuries to pedestrians, including many children. Held in the final year of the Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020, the conference brought government Ministers together to extend the 2020 target to reduce road deaths and serious injuries to 2030. The program has the support of dozens of countries worldwide.
A team of researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) used social media and artificial intelligence (AI) to look at the connection between nature experiences and happiness. The team analyzed over 31,500 photographs across 185 countries on social media with the help of an automated image recognition technology, finding global evidence of the biophilia hypothesis, or of human’s innate tendency to seek connection with nature. The study was published in Scientific Reports.
As the income gap becomes more pronounced in US cities, the number of school-age children is dropping as families move out to the suburbs. In 2018 about 12 percent of children aged 17 and under lived in the principal city of a metropolitan area, down from 14.6 percent in 2010. In addition, data from the national Census Bureau’s American Community Survey shows that the percentage of children aged five and under in these central cities fell from 16 percent in 2010 to 13.9 percent in 2018.
Outdoor or nature-based preschools have expanded dramatically in recent years, from just a handful of programs a decade ago to more than 400 across the US today. Now, as outdoor preschools look for a way to expand, the schools and their supporters are pushing states to consider licensing programs, even in places where children can encounter wild animals or poisonous plants.
New research from the European Centre for Environmental and Human Health at the University of Exeter shows that people who spend time in nature are more likely to engage in environmentally friendly behaviors. Using data from more than 24,000 English adults, the researchers found that exposure to nature, including strolling through a city park, makes people more likely to recycle; get around in greener ways, like walking and biking; buy local and seasonal produce; and engage in environmental volunteering.
A recent study from Canadian researchers found that adolescents consider being outdoors less important than access to screens. The study, which was published in the Canadian Journal of Public Health, also found that the addictive nature of screen time was a barrier to connecting with nature for this group.
New research led by University of Washington researchers found that experiencing wilderness is important for our physical and mental health. The study, based in Discovery Park in Seattle, reports that exposure to wilderness is especially important in urban landscapes, even compared to other types of natural areas. The research was prompted by the park’s advisory board, which asked the team to find out which elements are most important for park-goers in order to better inform decision-makers.