COP26 Special: Highland crofting and social purpose

Posted: 06 September 2021, in News

In the lead up to the COP26 event in Glasgow and Climate Fringe we’re featuring green social enterprises to promote their inspiring work in tackling the climate emergency. This week we hear from Darach Social Croft, take part in the conversation on social with the hashtags #GreenSocEnt and #COP26.

Darach Croft is located on the Ardnamurchan Peninsula in the Western Highlands. We operate as a Social Croft, like a Care Farm, and we use local natural resources to provide social support, promote wellbeing, and improve psychological and emotional functioning. Our work is especially for people with learning disabilities, autism or experiencing poor mental health. 

Since moving to the croft in 2017, we have started to plant hedgerows alongside stock fencing and plant shelterbelts in some of our fields. Being located in a crofting township we have a share in a large area of common grazings and we hope over the next few years to contribute to planting larger areas of shelterbelts of trees on the common grazings too. 

Hedgerows and shelterbelts are beneficial to the environment through the sequestering of CO2, providing a habitat and improving field drainage, but are also beneficial to animal health including through providing shade and shelter. We have previously written in more detail about the benefits of hedgerows and shelterbelts and regenerative agriculture and silvopasture on our own website.

Hugh Asher is a certified Forest Bathing Guide (Forest Bathing is a practice of walking slowly and mindfully through nature, actively connecting with your surroundings). A key component of Forest Bathing is about increasing ‘nature-connectedness’, encompassing an individual’s sense of their relationship with the natural world; their engagement with the natural world through their different senses; and the mental, physical and emotional benefits that can be felt as a consequence of spending time actively engaging with nature. 

These benefits can include greater feelings of autonomy, personal growth, and purpose in life; lower levels of anxiety, depression and stress; and increased attention span and cognitive functioning. 

Nature connectedness is not only important because of these mental, physical and emotional benefits, there are significant environmental benefits of people experiencing greater nature connectedness, as it is can lead to more pro-environmental attitudes and subsequent positive behaviours. 

There is a growing body of evidence that people’s relationship with nature profoundly influences their behaviours toward the environment, in that the more connected to nature they feel, the more aware they are of environmental issues and the less likely they are to engage in activities that are environmentally damaging. 

At a time when the world is confronted with growing environmental threats, better understanding the critical connection between people and nature is key to informing effective decision making, stimulating positive action, and optimising the benefits people and communities receive from nature.

Visit us on our website Darach Social Croft, or on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.