THE lockdown increase in Scots getting into the great outdoors is still on the rise, new research confirms.

National agency NatureScot found 80% of adults went into with nature at least once a week during August and September.

That's up from 70% during the initial March-to-May lockdown period.

And it's a marked increase from the 64% level recorded in August 2019.

Seven in ten people told researchers it had helped them cope.

The research is based on a survey of more than 1100 people and was carried out in conjunction with Scottish Forestry, the Cairngorms National Park Authority and Paths for All.

NatureScot says the results show “how our relationship with the outdoors and nature has changed as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic”.

The National:

Its chief executive Francesca Osowska commented: “Nature must be at the heart of a green recovery from this crisis, and it’s very encouraging to see that the increased connection to the outdoors and our natural world many reported during lockdown appears to have been sustained as restrictions eased.”

Seven in ten said spending time outdoors helped them destress, relax and unwind and 56% said it boosted their physical health.

Half expect to spend even more time out of doors in the future, with 20% saying they will devote “a lot more” time to this.

Additionally, two in five Scots said they had spent more time than last year relaxing in their garden and an increased percentage agreed that nature had become more important to their health and wellbeing.

The National:

However, encountering litter or human waste and a lack of public toilets was a problem for around a third of respondents.

Osowska said: “We know how important nature is for us all, both physically and emotionally, but as this survey shows, participation is lower in some groups including older people, less affluent people and those in poor health.

“Our new autumn campaign aims to help everyone Make Space for Nature in their lives with simple tips and ideas, from taking time to listen to birdsong to getting involved in citizen science on the doorstep. We want to continue to support people in taking the next step on their journey to caring for nature and experiencing all the benefits that can bring.”