Written by Jessica Adams (Nature Nerding)
Reading time: 5-6 minutes

There is an interesting duality to the month of January. On the one hand, the new year feels ripe with possibility and promise and on the other it often comes with a post-holiday slump only made worse by the gloom and cold of winter. What does the new year signify to you? When considering potential resolutions, what came to mind? According to Forbes Health/OnePoll survey, improved fitness and improved mental health factor in to the top three resolutions made in 2024.


Investments in our goals to improve physical and mental health can look like a variety of things: memberships, equipment, supplements, consultations… and the list goes on. Not surprisingly, many businesses have caught on and are poised to capitalize on this annual wave, ready to offer you exactly what you need at exactly the right time- for a fee, of course. Profiting from trends aside, what matters most, is that what you choose supports you in achieving your goals. So if improved fitness and mental health factor into your list of top resolutions, perhaps there is a highly effective resource, that is readily available, low-cost and with little to no negative side-effects, available to help you achieve those objectives…


The Biophilia Hypothesis posits that humans have an innate desire to connect with the natural world. Considering we had a direct and very concrete dependence on this connection for the better part of our evolutionary history, this makes a lot of sense. Why wouldn’t we have an affinity for and awareness of what sustains us? That instinctual tendency to connect lingers in our biology to this day and is very much intact when we are younger. The opportunities for nurturing this tendency throughout our lifetime, however, are fewer and farther between (just one of the reasons why we are so passionate about our Nature Education Program). This modern day reality has noticeably affected us mentally, emotionally and physically… to the point we are at a time where the concept of a “prescription for nature” is a legitimate thing!


There is a large body of research demonstrating the profound positive impacts nature can have on our health and wellbeing. With health on so many people’s minds, especially at this time of year, we thought it would be the perfect moment to outline some key bits of compelling information and some practical suggestions around the topic of making more time for nature in support of a healthier lifestyle…


Who benefits from time spent in nature? The short answer: everyone. At any age there are benefits to not only taking time to be in proximity to nature, but to intentionally engaging with the natural world.


Just some of the ways time in nature can benefit us at all stages of life:


  • For children, it can help improve attention and memory as well as the ability to cooperate with others, all of which support a child’s ability to learn and thrive in social settings. On the physiological side, time in nature can encourage lung function and make them less likely to develop allergies, not to mention supporting motor skill development.
  • For adults, it can reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and play a roll in regulating blood pressure and blood sugar.
  • For all, time in nature inherently involves fresh air and often involves movement – both of which are beneficial to our physical and mental wellbeing.


For more insight into the ways we are better off for connecting with nature, visi PaRx: A prescription for nature and this article in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health.


What does connecting with nature look like? Just being in nature can affect us in a positive way, no agenda necessary. This is a great place to start, particularly for those who are not accustomed to spending lots of time outside. If you want to take it further, key things to keep in mind are the presence and intention you bring to your experience of the natural world. “Stopping to smell the roses”… or “Pausing to observe the lichen”… or “Lingering to listen to the chickadees flitting around the feeder”. In short, slow down, notice and appreciate the everyday things.


Where can I connect with nature? Anywhere. Nature is in the snow that falls gently outside your window and in the life that grows on the bark of your favourite tree in the nearby park as much as it is in the remote depths of the wilderness. The beauty of this is that you don’t need to go far to incorporate nature into your life.


5 Prompts for Making More Time for Nature


1: If you’re even the slightest bit intrigued, make a commitment to yourself by setting a realistic objective! With as little as two hours a week, spread out in increments of 20 minutes or more, you can experience the benefits of connecting with the natural world. How can you incorporate those nature breaks into your schedule in a way that feels feasible?


3: Consider your current activities and hobbies – can you adapt them so they can be done outside? If not, can you occasionally swap an indoor activity for one outdoors? Families, for example, might want to try getting bundled up and doing storytime outside every now and then. Those who enjoy working out at the gym could occasionally save the cardio portion for a fast-paced walk or hike in a nearby trail network.


2: Make a list of five places you can visit without too much planning or preparation. Whether around the home, in the neighbourhood, or a short distance drive away, identifying places that you know and are easy to get to increases the likelihood of following through. If you’re feeling adventurous, maybe add one place you’ve never been before and set a goal to visit it sometime this year.


4: If you are feeling uninspired or just curious to hear some ideas, consult resources for prompts on different ways of engaging with the natural world. You can start by referring to our Nature Advent Calendar published in our December newsletter because these ideas work all winter long! Be Outside, Idaho also has a list of 101 Things to Do Outside in Winter.


5: Check in and celebrate. Whatever your new nature routine looks like, take time to notice how it lands. As part of your routine, before you go out, take inventory of how you are feeling both physically and mentally. Then check back in after. Recognize even the tiniest shifts that take place and congratulate yourself on every opportunity you seize to spend time outside.


Whether you are riding the high of New Year possibilities or feeling the weight of the post-Holiday slump, take comfort in knowing the natural world is always there to support you in leading a healthier lifestyle. From taking breaks from the computer and directing your gaze more intentionally out the window to taking a long meander through the woods on a Saturday morning, there are countless benefits to be enjoyed for the body, mind and soul.




We are pleased to announce that we have acquired a new property to protect in perpetuity and helped Blue Massawippi at the same time by purchasing this property which will give Blue Massawippi an infusion of cash for their important work on the lake. We would like to thank Christine Crowe and Denis Peticlerc along with MCT Trustee Margot Graham Heyerhoff who signed the deed of sale on December 19th, 2023.

Long before the Trust was established, Lake Massawippi Water Protection Inc. (Blue Massawippi) was given this 3-acre lot on the lakefront because the owner wanted to see it protected.  It is zoned ‘white’(developable). Had the MCT existed at the time, the Trust would have been the recipient of the land as Blue Massawippi does not have a mission to conserve and protect land in perpetuity.  Its mission is to protect the health and water quality of the lake. They work on issues such as invasive species such as zebra mussels, the recurring blue-green algae causes, and many other lake issues.  Blue Massawippi needs to focus all of its attention on the lake.

The members of Blue’s Board of Directors were very happy to know that this wetland, a carbon-capture environment close to Lake Massawippi, will, thanks to this transaction, be protected in perpetuity and thus continue forever to play its role as a natural habitat for flora and fauna. In addition, during periods of high water, it will help regulate the water level of Lake Massawippi. 

The Trust protects land adjacent to Lake Massawippi and its tributaries by:

  • Acquiring land through either purchase or donation 

– We purchased the wetland from Blue.

  • Establishing servitudes on land

– We have several properties under servitude and others being added in the near future.

  • Helping landowners understand the ecological and tax benefits of limiting the types of activities permitted on their properties.

– Access to the expertise of Corridor Appalachien as a member organization.

  • Helping landowners understand the potentially disastrous effect of over-development on the overall well-being of the Massawippi watershed. 

– As witnessed by residents and visitors alike, the protected green ridge has had a positive effect on the quality of life on the lake due to the many streams that flow into the lake that will never be disturbed.

How do the two organizations work side by side? 

What are the differences?

See below how we complement each other.

Massawippi Conservation Trust (LAND) Blue Massawippi (WATER)
Est in 2011 as a registered Canadian charity. Est in 1968 as a registered Canadian charity.
Mission : To conserve the natural state of the land adjacent to Lake Massawippi and its tributaries, and to provide stewardship services for that land in perpetuity. Mission : To inform, educate, influence and act on environmental issues that threaten water quality, the health of Lake Massawippi and the quality of life of its residents and users.
Description : The Massawippi Conservation Trust (MCT) was established to conserve land adjacent to Lake Massawippi and its tributaries and provide stewardship services in perpetuity. Starting with the lands on the western ridge of the lake because the government of Quebec identified this particular area as containing old growth forest with a rich biodiversity, including rare and endangered flora and fauna documented by biologists from Appalachian Corridor Association The Trust is now expanding its conservation efforts to include wetlands and agricultural lands in the entire watershed.

It is a registered not-for-profit organization that can issue tax receipts for donations.

Description : Bleu Massawippi is an organization dedicated to preserving and improving the ecosystem health of Lake Massawippi and its watershed. It works in close collaboration with its various partners, applying its very limited, non-coercive powers to ensure constant vigilance over conditions that threaten water quality, and to raise awareness among users, municipalities and government bodies of best practices based on scientific evidence. With its capacity to mobilize citizens, its credibility with regulatory authorities and the support of its partners, Bleu Massawippi is setting up structuring initiatives for the protection and conservation of Lake Massawippi with the objective of contributing directly and sustainably to the quality of life of users and the community.
Its sister organization, the Fondation Massawippi Foundation (FMF) whose mission is to:

  1. Preserve the Massawippi Valley’s unique ecosystem; 
  2. Fundraise and principally, but not exclusively, financially support the Massawippi Conservation Trust in its operations; 
  3. Support community-based initiatives that are ecologically, socially, culturally and/or educationally valuable to the Massawippi Valley. 
  4. As a fund within the Ottawa Community Foundation, it can also receive charitable donations directly.
  5. The FMF and MCT are focused on the land in the watershed of Lake Massawippi, an area of 586 square kilometers.
Blue Massawippi was incorporated as the Lake Massawippi Water Protection Inc.

It is a registered not-for-profit organization that can issue tax receipts for donations.


It’s mission is:

To inform, educate, influence and act on environmental issues that threaten water quality, the health of Lake Massawippi and the quality of life of its residents and users.

The lake has an area of 18.7 km2 and a perimeter of 38 km.


The land contains 2 rivers, countless streams and tributaries as well as underground water that all flow into the lake. By protecting the land in the watershed we are helping to reduce the flow of sediments and pollutants into the lake. The lake is the main source of drinking water for several communities as well as a biodiverse body of water at the center of 5 communities and a major tourist attraction for the region.
The Trust has added 12+ kms of natural trails to our protected properties in order to give the general public free access to the benefits of walking in nature. One trail goes down to the lake via Ethan’s Beach. 

The Foundation sponsors an outdoor education program which takes place at Scowen Park

With a target of 5 tonnes in 3 years, Bleu Massawippi devotes four weeks a year to removing the waste in the lake with a team of divers. 

A grand total of 4885 pounds (2216kg) of tires, bottles, car parts and concrete blocks and other objects were collected in 2023. It’s primary focus is the removal or reduction of zebra mussels, an invasive species.

The MCT authorizes research activities on its lands, which are part of the 4 tenets of conservation which it follows: Protection, Research, Recreation, Education.   Blue Massawippi runs an education program for boaters in order to help reduce or prevent invasive species from entering the lake, to provide a better control on conserving the riparian strip, and help keep the boaters safe
Current projects of the Massawippi Conservation Trust: 

● Agricultural research project with master’s students from Bishops University 

● 2 scientific studies in progress on our protected properties.

● A nature education program currently for students from grades 3 & 4. 

● Project 27. A targeted conservation project aimed to protect over 785 acres of vital wetlands at the southern end of Lake Massawippi. These lands are the kidneys of the lake.

Current priorities: Control zebra mussels in the lake and removal of veligers (scientific study ongoing)

  • Developing a scientific diving program 
  • Waste removal in the lake
  • Revegetation of the Tomifobia river
  • A scientific study of the lake currents
  • Water quality surveys

Sometimes people confuse the two organizations, thinking that we are one and the same, or they ask why we don’t merge.


The answer is simple. We each have our sphere of influence and focus so that we can accomplish parallel goals. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to protect the land and the lake for our community.  Each entity is able to focus all of its resources and energy on the mandate established at the time of their founding. Each of us are specialists in our own domains, effectively working to protect the valley we love, be it land or be it water.