BBC partnership confirmed

Virtual Nature has teamed up with the BBC, University of Bristol and Open University to launch its soundscape experiment across the country!

We’ve had to remain tight-lipped for a few weeks, but we’re thrilled to announce that our soundscape study will run alongside a brand new drama being launched by BBC Sounds.

The ‘Forest 404’ podcast series is an eco-thriller set in a distant future, one where a world without nature is imagined. The drama’s main character, Pan, works in a data library where she archives audio recordings from the 21st century. One day she stumbles upon a recording of a rainforest she is inexplicably drawn to and begins a quest to understand its origin and meaning.

We’ll be designing our study to explore the emotions Pan has in more detail, and discover how people across the UK respond to the sounds of nature.

Called the ‘Forest 404 Experiment’, it will mark one of the largest investigations of its kind to date, and give us an unprecedented insight into how the British public respond to different types of nature-based soundscape.

We also want to explore how the rich cultural heritage we share with nature can influence this relationship, a task that can only be achieved with input from our second partner, the University of Bristol. They’ll be helping us consider how cultural elements such as poetry might foster connections to the natural environment.

To deliver the experiment, we’re also working with the Open University to develop their new nQuire platform. The OU have an incredible team of software developers and survey experts working on this new tool, and we’re really excited to have them on board.

We’re aiming to launch the experiment alongside the Forest 404 podcast in April 2019. Ultimately, the findings from this study will help us understand how sound contributes to the therapeutic effects of nature.

They will also go on to inform the development of a ‘digital nature’ intervention which brings the positive effects of the natural world to people who can’t – for whatever reason – access the natural environment themselves.

Alex Smalley