Noosa research addresses the rise in eco-anxiety

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A Central Queensland University research project on ecoanxiety in the Noosa Shire aims to understand why people aged 18-35 suffer from persistent feelings of hopelessness and despair about the future due to climate change, and how to take action to overcome their concerns.

Recent statistics show that 75 per cent of young Australians think their future is scary and 84 per cent were concerned about climate change.

Rowan Rafferty, chair of the Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation, said this research could help provide answers about ways to improve well-being in our community.

“The Noosa Biosphere Reserve has recently experienced climate change-induced environmental disasters, from bushfires to extremely wet weather, which are likely to have an adverse impact on the mental health and well-being of citizens, particularly our young people,” Mr Rafferty said.

“Our Foundation is proud to work with partners to support this research project to better understand how positive action and engagement can contribute to improved mental health.”

Along with supporting partners, Noosa Council, Zero Emissions Noosa, Greenfleet and Noosa Landcare, NBRF funding will allow the 12-month project to assess the effectiveness of an intervention program to reduce environmental fears.

Led by Annie Nolan, a PhD student at Central Queensland University, the project team will engage 150 participants and assess the impact of their pro-environmental behavior on their concerns.

“Data collected by Headspace Australia found that a sudden increase in the incidence of emotional distress in people aged 18 to 35 is directly linked to increasing fear of catastrophic global climate events,” said Ms Nolan.

“Planting trees is a positive action that is relatively easy to do, but often overlooked in terms of its importance in the fight against climate change.

“This study aims to find out whether taking part in a tree planting campaign, which aims to plant enough trees to offset the CO2 emissions of their car, changes participants’ level of concern,” she said.

The tree planting campaign takes place in March and April. Not only will it help the Noosa community achieve its goal of zero emissions by 2026, but also in the replanting and restoration of native wildlife habitats.

The Noosa Biosphere Reserve Foundation will provide $10,000 to support research.

To register your interest in the upcoming Noosa tree planting event, visit fb.com/noosabiospherereserve or email [email protected]m

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