Walking as bodily readying for engagement with natural environments

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Trends to an increase in mediated experiences of nature will create greater distance between humans and nature. This is likely to diminish human commitment to protect natural environments, at a time when we should be improving protection. Researchers increasingly emphasise the importance of finding new ways of connecting with natural environments that may lead to better human stewardship and protection behaviors. This paper explores underresearched relationships between walking in natural environments and enhanced affiliation with and commitment to protect natural environments. The paper draws on analyses from several disciplines to speculate about this relationship. Among accounts of many types of walking, the interactions between walking, walker and environment are most directly described by Wunderlich’s (2008) concept of ‘discursive’ walking, and Lee and Ingold’s (2006) ‘embodied experience’. These concepts focus on the bodily experience of walking, where walker consciously and unconsciously engages and interacts with discernible and indiscernible features of the places through which they
walk. The interaction is much more than contemplation led by the eyes. Multiple senses are alert, and the feet play an important sensory role. Walking is described as a co-creation, a discourse between internal bodily rhythms and the rhythms and features of place. The paper suggests that in some circumstances walking may help people develop affinity with place, and that in some circumstances people will be acted on through walking and readied for personal change, which may be an enhanced engagement with natural environments more generally. The issues are sufficiently important, and the analysis sufficiently positive, to warrant further exploration of links between walking and connection with nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)22-38
Number of pages17
JournalFusion Journal
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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