Bradford GP and best-selling author Dr Amir Khan is also encouraging communities to get involved with our #ActNowforCanals campaign.
ITV's Dr Amir Khan has pledged his support to our #ActNowForCanals campaign, and is encouraging others to do the same.
A dose of wellbeing
Dr Khan said: "Spending time outdoors has huge benefits to our physical and mental wellbeing and there are many studies that repeatedly prove being amongst nature offers numerous health benefits including reducing stress, anxiety, and blood pressure.
“Since the start of the pandemic, I've seen a huge spike in conversations around wellbeing and people raising concerns over their mental health. That's why it's so important we protect and look after the precious outdoor blue and green spaces, like canals and rivers, particularly in our towns and cities where they are needed most.
“Over the last year, the outdoors became a savior for many of us. For me, my local canal offered the respite and the time in nature I needed to recharge after a busy clinic and influx of patients.
"This is why I'm supporting the Canal & River Trust by asking you to #ActNowForCanals and look after these vital spaces that offer a natural and lasting way to better wellbeing for millions of people across the country. All you need to do is one small act, that will positively impact so many people by taking part in their ten-minute Sense in Nature survey today."
Our Sense in Nature survey
Our Sense in Nature survey, which is our largest survey to date, is part of our #ActNowForCanals campaign.
We are asking you to collect valuable conservation data by noting the nature you can see, hear, smell and feel. The insight from the survey will help us establish the ecological value of each stretch of canal across the nation, as well as the wellbeing benefits to the surrounding communities using them.
We will use the data to identify low-scoring sites where we can work with communities to make environmental interventions, for example targeting litter clearance or planting new habitat, bringing nature into the areas that are in most need and, importantly, helping future proof and better protect canals, making them blue, green and better.
Bringing much-needed wellness to all
Visits to the canals bring much-needed wellness benefits to people. Our research has revealed that after a visit to a canal, 63% notice a positive improvement in mood, 67% feel calm, 62% said they feel happy and 41% feel more energetic.
Paul Wilkinson, our senior ecologist, adds: “The nature deficit in many urban areas has become even more pressing during the pandemic, where access to quality local outdoor space has been vital for helping to improve peoples' wellbeing.
“Canals are uniquely placed to be the much needed ‘back garden' for millions of people, and by completing the survey we are asking them to take notice of the flowers, the insects, birds or the mammals and help record where nature is thriving.
"With the UK on a staycation this summer, enjoy a walk, picnic or boat trip by the canal and take part in the survey whilst you are there. We have a unique opportunity to create canals that are cared for and where nature and wildlife is looked after.
“A legacy of Britain's industrial past, today's canals are arteries of green and blue in our towns and cities, but we've further work to do in making them cleaner and greener, attracting herons, kingfishers, bats, and even otters into urban areas. We want to know where scores are low so there is a real opportunity to work with the community to bring nature back where people need it the most.”