Beyond knowing nature: Contact, emotion, compassion, meaning, and beauty are pathways to nature connection
Feeling connected to nature has been shown to be beneficial to wellbeing and pro-environmental behaviour. General nature contact and knowledge based activities are often used in an attempt to engage people with nature. However the specific routes to nature connectedness have not been examined systematically. Two online surveys (total n = 321) of engagement with, and value of, nature activities structured around the nine values of the Biophila Hypothesis were conducted. Contact, emotion, meaning, and compassion, with the latter mediated by engagement with natural beauty, were predictors of connection with nature, yet knowledge based activities were not. In a third study (n = 72), a walking intervention with activities operationalising the identified predictors, was found to significantly increase connection to nature when compared to walking in nature alone or walking in and engaging with the built environment. The findings indicate that contact, emotion, meaning, compassion, and beauty are pathways for improving nature connectedness. The pathways also provide alternative values and frames to the traditional knowledge and identification routes often used by organisations when engaging the public with nature.
Open Access article
Citation : Lumber, R., Richardson, M. and Sheffield, D. (2017) Beyond knowing nature: Contact, emotion, compassion, meaning, and beauty are pathways to nature connection. PLOS One, 12 (5): e0177186
Peer Reviewed : Yes