Communities are being encouraged to look at nature through new eyes during Conservation Week 2020, which this year is from August 15 to 23.

Conservation Week is an annual event led by the Department of Conservation (DoC), and this year's focus is on the well-being benefits of spending time in nature, says DoC Director General Lou Sanson.

"After the Covid-19 lockdown, many of us look at life and our world with different perspectives," he says.

"Nature hasn't changed – but we have. We've slowed down and taken time to reflect on the most important things in our lives.

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"The wellbeing of Papatuanuku is our wellbeing. Take a little time in nature for your wellbeing, and if you can, give a little back to nature for its wellbeing."

Many New Zealanders found their solace in their daily exercise during the Covid-19 lockdown by engaging with nature through visits to their local parks, beaches and waterways, Lou says.

"Although we had to limit contact with each other during the lockdown, and people couldn't explore the deeper areas of the land DoC is responsible for, that didn't mean they couldn't spend time in nature," he says.

"For many of us, nature helped us through a pretty unusual time – and we need to carry that forward into our lives in the Covid-19 world."

Lou says DoC has tens of thousands of beautiful natural areas for people to enjoy – and Conservation Week is DoC's way of reminding all New Zealanders how good it can be for their wellbeing and health.

"You don't have to be a tramper, hiker, skier, hunter or angler to enjoy being in nature, and spending in it will make you feel good and reflect how fortunate we are to have it around us – so that's our push for Conservation Week 2020."

DoC Community Ranger, Katy Newton says there is a range of activities being supported in Whanganui to encourage people to connect with nature, recharge and work towards a healthier future.

"Along with our popular planting days at Gordon Park Scenic Reserve (see below) and Castlecliff Beach, we've partnered with Confluence to screen two amazing films," Katy says.

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"There will also be a Nature Art: Our Feathered Friends activity at Gonville Library, a story time at the Davis Library with DoC rangers and an interesting talk by Dr Roger Shand focusing on the changes in the Whanganui River 1840-2020.

"There are many ways to 'be with nature' – take a walk along our Awa, visit Bushy Park Tarapuruhi, Rotokawau Virginia Lake or another of our other amazing parks, explore the Teeth, Talons and Taxidermy exhibition at the Museum, the list is endless."

Immerse yourself in nature this Conservation Week and embrace what's always been there; look, listen, breathe and feel.

Gordon Park volunteer Morning

As part of Conservation Week 2020, the Department of Conservation and Friends of Gordon Park invite all members of our community to a volunteer morning at Gordon Park Scenic Reserve, corner Kaimatira Rd and No3 Line, Whanganui East from 10am on Sunday, August 16.

"New Zealanders are encouraged to spend time in nature during Conservation Week 2020," says DoC Community Ranger Katy Newton.

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"At our Gordon Park volunteer morning we plan on clearing weeds, planting and enjoying being immersed in nature, we'd love to see you there."

Gordon Park Scenic Reserve is a precious example of a lowland forest type which was once common in the Whanganui area. The reserve features a flat and well-formed track and is home to an interesting array of plants and birds.

For more information about our Conservation Week programme contact Katy Newton at knewton@doc.govt.nz or 027 384 3724, or visit conservationweek.org.nz.