We know, because our visitors tell us, that being outside in nature makes you feel good. Whether it is a stroll through one of our reserves, an hour spent quietly in a hide with some binoculars or hand feeding our friendly geese, these connections with our natural world do something to us that fundamentally affects our sense of wellbeing.
Sunrise and sunset are incredible, tranquil times at our reserves, with the low light reflecting across water and the birds in a flurry of activity. Viewing in person is one of the best ways to start or end your day, but if you can’t get to a centre, here’s a time lapse capture of a beautiful example at WWT Slimbridge.
With modern distractions such as social media and on-demand TV meaning we've got even more temptation to stay inside, we're in danger of losing touch with the other life we share our world with. At our centres, you have the opportunity to get up close and feed the birds often right from your hand. And as WWT’s late and great Dr. Janet Kear said, ‘just as you can’t sneeze without closing your eyes, you can’t feed a bird from your hand without smiling’.
It's hard to be around groups of fluffy, cheeping chicks and industrious parent birds without feeling a sense of joy. With biodiversity figures plummeting worldwide and a solution for climate change needed fast, it's easy to feel overwhelmed by the issues, but seeing the abundance of new life in healthy wetlands can help reassure you that something positive is being done.
It's not just managing our reserves so young life can thrive. WWT are working on many other projects in the UK and around the world to protect wetlands and make a positive impact on our environment.
Organisations such as the Green Gym are available to help you find opportunities to volunteer in nature. If you live near a WWT reserve, there are lots of volunteering options to explore. Our volunteers say things like 'Volunteering with WWT gives me a great chance to get out and about' and 'there's a great pleasure in being able to provide wonderful experiences for people'. People volunteer for many different reasons, but the mental and physical health implications are a clear benefit.
If you don’t have time to volunteer, you can use your own green space to give back to wildlife in your own time. If you need inspiration, our gardening for wetlands hub has help and advice to create a pond that's designed to help wildlife, and will also help 'slow the flow' of rainwater to our drains and rivers. But it's not just ponds - even if you're space or time poor, there are lots of ways to bring water to your garden and enjoy a sense of contribution to helping the natural world.