Relations between Urban Bird and Plant Communities and Human Well-Being and Connection to Nature

Gary Luck, Penelope Davidson, Dianne Boxall, Lisa Smallbone

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175 Citations (Scopus)
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By 2050, 70% of the world's population will live in urban areas. In many cases urbanization reduces the richness and abundance of native species. Living in highly modified environments with fewer opportunities to interact directly with a diversity of native species may adversely affect residents' personal well-being and emotional connection to nature. We assessed the personal well-being, neighborhood well-being (a measure of a person's satisfaction with their neighborhood), and level of connection to nature of over 1000 residents in 36 residential neighborhoods in southeastern Australia. We modeled these response variables as a function of natural features of each neighborhood (e.g., species richness and abundance of birds, density of plants, and amount of vegetation cover) and demographic characteristics of surveyed residents. Vegetation cover had the strongest positive relations with personal well-being, whereas residents' level of connection to nature was weakly related to variation in species richness and abundance of birds and density of plants. Demographic characteristics such as age and level of activity explained the greatest proportion of variance in well-being and connection to nature. Nevertheless, when controlling for variation in demographic characteristics (examples were provided above), neighborhood well-being was positively related to a range of natural features, including species richness and abundance of birds, and vegetation cover. Demographic characteristics and how well-being was quantified strongly influenced our results, and we suggest demography and metrics of well-being must be considered when attempting to determine relations between the urban environment and human well-being.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)816-826
Number of pages11
JournalConservation Biology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2011


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