Wetlands and wellbeing

We already know that spending time in nature makes us feel good. And there’s now a growing body of evidence that shows it does much more than that.

What is it about water?

If you've ever visited a WWT reserve, or even your local river or pond, you'll know there's something special about water. Which is why we are busy researching the impact our “blue” spaces have on our health and wellbeing. Our research at WWT Slimbridge has shown for the first time that nature-based interventions in a wetland environment can contribute significantly to the treatment of anxiety and depression.

Our wetland centres are both accessible, safe places for people to immerse themselves in nature and optimal habitat for wildlife. We’re using these settings to evaluate the effects spending time in wetlands has on individual and societal health.


Wetland stories

Whether it’s the crash of a wave, the lap of a tidal estuary of the gentle stillness of a shimmering lake, water has the power to inspire and calm us. Human beings have been connected to wetlands throughout the history of civilisation. But is our connection about more than survival? We think so…

My life with whooper swans

"The happiness from the wildfowl and the love of life with WWT and the whoopers really can bring an essence of calm.”


My story: Waltraud Englefield

"Nature gave me perspective and positive boosts. It also connects me to the reality of life."


Have you had a positive experience of being in wetlands that you’d like to share? Send your stories to waterlife@wwt.org.uk

Ideas for getting outside

  • Birdwatching – what you need to get started

    You might think that birdwatching involves a lot of kit and an extensive knowledge of ornithology, but all you really need is an appreciation of nature, any old binoculars and a desire to get outside. Tips from a beginner birdwatcher
  • Winter photography tips

    Winter can be cold, wet and uninspiring. But go to the right places and time your visit with some magical winter weather and you can be rewarded with images that capture the best of this season.
  • Activities to get the kids outside

    Wetlands are bursting with life and things to see throughout the year - including winter! And wet, splashy, muddy weather can be more fun than you might realise.

Five mindful exercises you can try

  • Breathe and smell the air

    Can you smell plants and water? Feel the air slowly passing in and out of your lungs.
  • Listen

    Close your eyes. What birds and animals can you hear? Can you hear plants moving in the breeze?
  • Watch wildlife

    Pick a bird floating on the water. Spend a while watching what it does. What might it be thinking? How complicated is its life?
  • Watch water

    We’re naturally attracted to water. Watch how it moves, reflects and dapples. What’s going on along the water’s edges?
  • Explore

    Take your time to move around, trying all the above at different places as you go. Notice everything. Feel that you’re a part of the nature that surrounds you.

Feel good by giving back

Visit one of our beautiful, fully accessible wetland centres any time you like with one of our memberships. Watch the birds, feed a swan, take a walk or sit and watch the world go by.

Can’t get to a centre? There are lots of ways you can take action today to help reverse the decline of wetlands.

However you decide to spend your time with us you’ll be helping wetland nature thrive.