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The Importance of Nature and Green Spaces for Students

By: Elena Brake

Spring has finally arrived! Lately I have been thinking a lot about the importance of green spaces and spending time with nature. Spring also happens to coincide with a lot of my coursework deadlines and I start to prepare more heavily for exams. Having access to green spaces on campus and nearby can help me to feel more relaxed and allows me to take a breather from my studies. You don’t have to take my word for it either! Research has shown a strong link between access to green spaces in universities and better mental health in students.


Green Spaces on Campus

I study at the University of Plymouth, where there are several little pockets of nature that help to take the stress away from imminent deadlines. A real favourite of mine is Drake’s Reservoir. The reservoir itself was originally built in 1825. It went out of use in the 1970s before being restored and re-opened in June 2014. The garden features plenty of trees, flowers and water features which help make it such a relaxing and mindful place to spend some time.

Black and white image showing Drake’s Place Reservoir and Gardens in 1910

If you’re after something a little different, the Sustainability Hub has an internal and external living green wall, which covers 80 square metres. The building itself is surrounded by a beautiful garden with plenty of perennial grasses, bulbs, herbs and native woodland plants as well!

Living walls showing various species of plants covering the side of the Sustainability Hub


Nearby Nature

Away from campus, there are plenty of natural spaces to explore. In Plymouth I am lucky to have Plymouth Hoe and Dartmoor National Park on my doorstep. There are also parks and public gardens which are excellent for taking walks with friends and leaving my academic pressures behind for a moment. It’s also about practicing being mindful, which can be rare in today’s tech-heavy and ‘always connected’ way of life.

Ancient standing stones laid in a circle on Dartmoor

Wherever you end up choosing to study, it’s worth doing a bit of research on the nearby green spaces so that you can make full use of them. Having nature to explore on your days off will help you to disconnect from your busy schedule and spend time appreciating the beauty of the world we live in.

In short, green spaces aren’t just for decoration. They are essential for student well-being. As spring arrives, let’s all remember to take advantage of these areas and reconnect with nature for our mental health.

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