Biodiversity behaviors Connection to nature Spotlight

Adult experiences in nature matter too

Prevot A, Cheval H, Raymond R, Cosquer A. (2018) Routine experiences of nature in cities can increase personal commitment toward biodiversity conservation. Biological Conservation 226: 1-8.

In a nutshell: Adults who experience nature as part of a daily routine are more connected to nature and may be more likely to act in pro-biodiversity ways.

Numerous studies have emerged in recent years which indicate that people who experience nature are likely to have increased ‘connectedness’ to nature. It has also been suggested that those people with greater connectedness may be more likely to undertake pro-environmental behaviours, although these behaviours are often self-reported generic pro-environmental behaviours. Many studies have suggested that childhood experiences in nature are particularly important fostering nature connectedness.

The authors of this study found that:

  • Adults who experience nature as a part of their daily routine tended to have greater connectedness to nature than those who do not;
  • This is irrespective of whether the nature experiences involved explicit attention to biodiversity (such as participating in nature-based citizen science or being a member of a local environment group), or implicit attention to biodiversity (such as involvement in a community garden);
  • Of those who did routinely experience nature, connectedness tended to be greater where this involved explicit attention to biodiversity; and
  • Adults who routinely experience nature were more likely to perform specific pro-environmental behaviours that benefit biodiversity (including composting, managing their garden for wild-flowers, voting for candidates on the basis of their position on conservation issues, amongst others).

This research helps to broaden our understanding of the ‘nature experience, connection and action’ space, particularly in showing that experiences of nature in adulthood can be relevant to nature connection and to undertaking biodiversity-specific conservation behaviours.

However, like most research in this space (and as duly noted by the authors), these results must be considered carefully, as the data relies on self-reported behaviour (prone to social desirability bias) and is correlational in nature (i.e. Is it a person’s connection to nature that influences whether they incorporate nature in their daily routine, or does a person’s routine increase their connection to nature when that routine means they are regularly exposed to nature?)

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