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In the shutdown, many people were searching for nature. Science now shows that biodiversity enhances our well-being, even without a pandemic

The virus and the lockdown brought it into the spotlight. More people were searching for their way into nature. There was almost nothing left for them, as cinemas, bars, theaters and even sports facilities were not allowed to spend their free time in any other way. Skilled researchers have taken the opportunity to investigate what we love most about nature and whether contact with it has a noticeable positive effect on physical and mental well-being.

The idea did not come out of nowhere, as studies pointing to this trend were published more than ten years ago. But now studies from the US, Asian cities and Europe clearly show that being in nature is not only useful for escaping confinement due to the pandemic.

He even showed that there is a link between the diversity of animal and plant species and their habitats, i.e. biodiversity on the one hand, and happiness and well-being on the other. Obviously, you don’t even have to venture into the last wild natural spaces, like the peaks of the Alps. Even the multiplicity of species of birds and plants in urban gardens pleases the soul.

The latest investigation is the result of a joint research project between the Universities of Kiel and Frankfurt, the Senckenberg Center for Biodiversity and Climate Research and the German Center for Integrative Biodiversity Research in Halle-Jenna-Leipzig. For Germany and 26,000 Europeans, it has shown that people are happier when their immediate environment is rich in bird fauna.

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Since the drama is still so recent, studies cannot of course be conducted on whether German spirits, traumatized by their national team leaving the European Football Championship early, can recover by enjoying nature. Science does not yet agree on whether biodiversity helps relieve stress, but there are increasing signs that it is beneficial for health and overall well-being.

Unfortunately, the opposite is not true. It does not benefit in any way the well-being and diversity of nature if more and more people try to find happiness and contentment there. Mountains of roadside litter, cross-country trails, and the noise from the former islands of calm are just some of the points of criticism that resent foresters and nature conservation authorities.

Should the writer Hans Magnus Enzensberger be right when he said more than half a century ago that the tourist destroys what he seeks the moment he finds it?

At that time the concept of biodiversity did not exist and fewer people were out in nature. Awareness of the problem has likely increased significantly since then. Not only for the sake of the environment, but also because biodiversity is good for us. Will the next federal government draw the necessary conclusions from this?

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