Urban residents' perceptions of neighbourhood nature: Does the extinction of experience matter?

Masashi Soga, Kevin J. Gaston, Tomoyo F. Koyanagi, Kiyo Kurisu, Keisuke Hanaki

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

57 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Today's children have less direct contact with nature than ever before, resulting in an “extinction of experience”. Research has suggested that such loss of daily interactions decreases people's appreciation of the natural world, but this remains quantitatively unexplored. We conducted a questionnaire survey of undergraduate university students in Tokyo, Japan, and determined the effects of frequency of contact with nature on emotional connectedness to nature and perceptions of neighbourhood nature. A total of 255 students participated in the surveys. Students' perceptions of neighbourhood nature were measured by to what extent they valued cultural ecosystem services derived from neighbourhood natural environments, birds and butterflies. Results showed that students valued neighbourhood natural environments, birds and butterflies for many different reasons, such as relaxation, beauty of natural scenes, an indicator of seasonality, and opportunities for education. Linear mixed models revealed that both current and childhood frequencies of contact with nature were positively related not only to students' emotional connectedness to nature but also their perceptions of neighbourhood nature. Students' emotional connection to nature and perceptions of neighbourhood nature were positively associated with each other. Our results suggest that, given the rapid decrease in children's daily contact with nature, public appreciation of the value of the natural world is likely gradually also to decrease. This can be a major obstacle to reversing global environmental challenges. People should therefore be encouraged to experience neighbourhood natural environments and biodiversity, and city planners and policy makers will play a vital role in connecting people with nature.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)143-150
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Conservation
Volume203
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2016
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Conservation psychology
  • Ecosystem services
  • Human health
  • Nature experiences
  • Psychological wellbeing
  • Urban ecology

Cite this