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09/27/2018 12:54 EDT | Updated 09/27/2018 12:55 EDT

New Study Finds Canadians Are Spending Less Time In Nature

A new online survey found 87 per cent of respondents felt happier and healthier when connected to nature.

A sunrise at the Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park.
Zou Zheng / Zuma Press via The Canadian Press
A sunrise at the Two Jack Lake in Banff National Park.

TORONTO — A survey for the Nature Conservancy of Canada indicates Canadians feel happier when they are connected to nature, but fewer are making the effort to get out of the house.

The online survey of 2,000 Canadians found 87 per cent of respondents felt happier, healthier and more productive when connected to nature.

But 74 per cent of respondents say that it is simply easier to spend time indoors and 66 per cent say they spend less time in nature than they used to.

Nature Conservancy of Canada via The Canadian Press
Fall colors in on a hill in the Mount Foster Nature Reserve in Quebec. is shown in this undated handout photo.

It also found more than 80 per cent of respondents are concerned that accessible natural areas will not be there for future generations and that 94 per cent of Canadians are aware of the physical and mental health benefits of spending time in nature.

The Nature Conservancy released the survey results Thursday to highlight its Landmark Campaign — an effort to double the land and water conserved by the NCC to more than 2.4 million hectares.

To inspire Canadians to contribute to the campaign, the NCC has curated a pop-up art exhibit called Nature and Me, featuring nature photography and reflections from notable Canadians, that will travel across the country.

Getty Images/iStockphoto
Hopewell Rocks in Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick.

Jim Cuddy, Ed Burtynsky, Rick Mercer, Clara Hughes and Adam van Koeverden are among those sharing their stories in the Nature and Me exhibit to highlight the importance of nature as an inspiration in their lives.

The survey, conducted by Ipsos Research, also indicated that Canadians spend an average of 1.3 hours per day in nature during the week and two hours on the weekend.

Eighty-eight per cent of those surveyed said that reducing stress was a benefit of nature, while 57 per cent listed lowering blood pressure as a benefit.

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Among the reasons cited for spending time indoors were busy personal lives and environmental factors such as rain, snow, bugs and insects.

The Landmark Campaign has already raised $545-million towards its $750-million goal and completed 390 of 500 planned projects, which include restoring rare habitats, supporting species at risk, and improving the quality of air and water.

"We are at a turning point," Nature Conservancy president John Lounds said in a release. "It's time to talk boldly about the tangible benefits nature provides, and the urgency and importance of protecting it."

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