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STH and nature connectedness website banner

Time in nature is one of the key processes that underpins STH practice.

However, access to and contact with green space is not enough in itself to bring about the health benefits that STH can achieve.

Studies by the universities of Derby (Nature Connectedness Research Group) and Exeter (European Centre for Environment and Human Health) show that people benefit more from actively connecting with nature than from merely being in it.


Nature connectedness is a measurable psychological construct that moves beyond contact with nature to an individual’s sense of their relationship with the natural world.

University of Derby

The Nature Connectedness Research Group produced the pathways to nature connectedness. These provide a route for people to develop a new relationship with the natural world. A new closer, healthier and more sustainable relationship with nature comes through noticing, feeling, beauty, celebration and care. The pathways are:

  • Senses - tuning in to nature through the senses
  • Emotion - feeling alive through the emotions and feelings nature brings
  • Beauty - noticing nature’s beauty
  • Meaning - nature bringing meaning to our lives
  • Compassion - caring and taking action for nature

The work of the STH practitioner is to use an individual’s connection to nature to effect benefits to physical and mental health and wellbeing.

‘Gardening, when incorporated into therapeutic and mindfulness activities, can have a wide range of psychological and physiological health benefits’

Mughal, 2022

The Nature Connectedness Network, jointly run by Natural England and the University Of Derby, continues to explore the value of nature connectedness for the environment, society, and for health.