The study sought to bring diverse research together and to highlight gaps in our understanding of these important connections. “We hoped that we could make a first attempt at bringing together these varied and disparate pieces of research into a cohesive whole that could help demonstrate just how pervasive the intangible connections of this relationship between nature and human well-being are,” said lead author Roly Russell, of the Sandhill Institute for Complexity and Sustainability in British Columbia.
Using a conceptual framework, the nine-member research team organized the literature by delineating the four channels of experience —knowing, perceiving, interacting with, and living within — through which people connect with nature. The team then explored how those channels link to the 10 components of human well-being including: physical health, mental health, spirituality, certainty and sense of control and security, learning/capability, inspiration/fulfillment of imagination, sense of place, identity/autonomy, connectedness/belonging and subjective (overall) well-being.
“While assessing the intangible benefits we experience from nature is difficult using traditional methods, it is possible, and important,” said Frank Davis, director of NCEAS. “These findings are a significant step to developing a fuller understanding of human connectedness to nature.”
Humans and Nature: How Knowing and Experiencing Nature Affect Well-Being
Roly Russell, Anne D. Guerry, Patricia Balvanera, Rachelle K. Gould, Xavier Basurto, Kai M.A. Chan, Sarah Klain, Jordan Levine, and Jordan Tam
Annual Review of Environment and Resources, Vol. 38: 473 -502
More information on the NCEAS Project: Cultural Ecosystem Services from Marine and Coastal Systems: Counting the intangibles (EBM)