Your NatureHood is nature right in your neighbourhood – from the biggest cities to the smallest communities. It’s where you live and includes not only humans and human landscapes but wildlife and their habitats.
It’s nearby nature: the park at the end of your street, your backyard, a tree-lined street, an overlooked urban forest fragment, or a special green space in your community. Your NatureHood is any place in which you ‘connect’ with nature’s wonder – from watching a bee pollinate a flower in your planter box, to feeding wild birds, to witnessing the trees and other plants you encounter change with the passing of the seasons.
Removing barriers to accessing nature
The goal of our NatureHood program is to connect urban residents to nearby nature. This approach is founded on growing evidence of society’s growing disconnect from nature, coupled with the reality that there are many barriers limiting people’s access to nature, such as distance, lack of knowledge, perceived cost, lack of equipment and cultural perceptions of nature, just to name a few. Many of these barriers are based on perceptions or false notions about nature, while others are much more complex. Additionally, as Canadian society evolves we welcome new cultural perceptions and experiences of nature, as well as linguistic differences to helping people connect to nature.
With NatureHood we aim to address these and other barriers by helping people discover nature all around them through activities built on celebration, education, stewardship and nature observation. We’re not claiming that an urban backyard is the same as, or is any substitute for, pristine natural spaces such as wilderness or national parks – we’re simply helping people see and experience the examples of nature’s complexity and wonder that are right there waiting for them.
Connecting to nature by getting outdoors
Another important part of our NatureHood work is getting people – especially young people – outside and active right where they live. Canada is presently facing a national obesity epidemic (more than one-quarter of Canadians are obese), which is underscored by studies showing that less than one-quarter of Canadian children aged 5-17 meet national guidelines for recommended daily screen-time. The health issues don’t stop there, including estimates that 90% of our time is spent indoors and evidence that only 7% of Canadian children and youths meet daily requirements for physical activity.
No conversation about the health benefits of getting outside and being active is complete without mention of the mental health benefits. Studies show that people not only feel calmer and more relaxed when they’re in nature, but simply being in close proximity to a green space can improve the sense of well-being in urban office workers. Some medical professionals are even going so far as to prescribe “nature” to their patients. Our NatureHood program takes all of this evidence into account as we deliver activities to help people connect to nearby nature.
You may be able to walk, bike, hike, run, swim, canoe/kayak, glide or even SCUBA dive in your NatureHood! Chances are, it’s a great place for everyone to visit year-round!
For example, here is a short list of things you can easily do in your NatureHood!
Ride your bicycle
Is your community bicycle-friendly? Are there trails, pathways or shared roadways that you can use to get outside and get active on wheels? What about commuting to work or to your bus stop or carpool lot by bike? Bicycling is just one of the many ways you can try experiencing your NatureHood on wheels.
Cool off with a dip at your nearest beach or designated swimming area! Many Canadian towns, cities and even rural communities offer public access to waterways and/or water bodies that are a great way to celebrate and explore the role of water for human and non-human inhabitants in your NatureHood.
Walk or run
Take stroll through a local park, along local pathways or just along a tree-lined street in your neighbourhood and listen for birds, bugs or just enjoy the scenery. You can even join a local running club to explore new nearby green spaces and natural areas, and meet new people while getting in some exercise.
Get out your camera
Nearby nature offers some of the best opportunities to hone your nature and wildlife photography skills. Try photographing leaves, insects or even streetscapes in different light and throughout the year to document how your NatureHood changes with the seasons.
How can I help my NatureHood?
Your NatureHood may be in or near one a large urban centre, or it may be very rural.
No matter where it’s found, there are some simple ways to help keep your NatureHood healthy and attractive for humans and wildlife!
Want more information? Download our 15 Ways to be a Good Neighbour in Your NatureHood brochure full of great tips:
Conservation & Management Plans
Want to take your NatureHood stewardship to the next level? Check out the Conservation Plan for your NatureHood’s nearest Important Bird & Biodiversity Area (IBA). The Plans for select NatureHood areas are listed below:
NautreHood Work Across Canada
Check out the work Saanich Peninsula is doing to bring awareness to their NatureHood!
The Victoria Harbour Bird Sanctuary is the oldest migratory bird sanctuary on Canada’s Pacific coast and it recently has been recognized as a NatureHood!