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December 17, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic is driving more people outdoors, finds two new UVM studies in Yahoo News, MSN, CNN Affiliates, and more.

One study led by Gund Fellow Brendan Fisher found that 26% of people visiting parks during early months of the COVID-19 pandemic had rarely – or never – visited nature in the previous year. Media coverage for Fisher’s findings includes The Daily Telegraph, Daily Express, Earth, CBC, and more.

“Like many people, we noticed a large increase in the number of visitors to urban forests and parks in the early days of the pandemic,” said Fisher. “We wanted to understand how people were using local nature to cope with the physical and mental challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

A second study led by Gund Fellow Rachelle Gould found that women were more likely to report significant increases in outdoor activity during COVID-19. Outdoor activities seeing the largest increases were: watching wildlife (up 64%), gardening (57%), taking photos or doing other art in nature (54%), relaxing alone outside (58%), and, yes, making their masked and distanced way on walks (70%).

“These data are like a treasure chest of the pandemic moment: a record of how people have been thinking about their relationship with the rest of the world in a time of great upheaval,” said Gould, whose research also appeared in Burlington Free Press, VT Digger, AFP, Malaysia Sun, National Herald India, and more.

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