Interaction with nature nourishes human well-being, according to experts

Researchers identified through a systematic review of 301 academic articles how nature is linked to and significantly affects human well-being. The purpose of the research is to better understand the attributions of nature, since they arise from recreation and social experiences.

Lam Huynh, graduate student of the Postgraduate Program in Sustainability Sciences of the University of Tokyo, together with his team, he carried out a systematic verification of 301 academic articles. Subsequently, they identified 227 unique links between a single cultural ecosystem service (CES) and a single component of human well-being. Finally, they did another critical reading and managed to identify the main points in common.

They were identified 16 underlying mechanisms that referred to the different forms of interaction between people with nature and how it affects their comfort. For example, they showed that there may be negative interactions through irritative or destructive mechanisms, as well as positive interactionss through creative or formative mechanisms. In this way, the way in which well-being is linked to the intangible aspects of nature is shown.

According to the document, to which the agency had access, the negative effects on human well-being occurred after degradation or loss of ESCs and damage to the ecosystem. In another sense, the positive contributions of the CES were observed in physical and mental health through recreation, tourism and aesthetic value.

the coautor Alexander Gasparatos, Associate Professor at the Institute for Future Initiatives (IFI) at the University of Tokyo, commented that pathways and mechanisms strongly interact. Therefore, he assured that it can create positive synergies, which can be used to provide benefits for human comfort.

However, the researchers acknowledged that there may still be more unidentified links, as the review showed gaps in current research. According to Gasparatos, the missing pathways and mechanisms may be in ecosystem-dependent communities, such as indigenous communities.

They also highlighted that a gap in the current literature is that it focuses on the well-being of individuals rather than the collective welfarevoHuynh explained. In that sense, the gap hampers researchers’ ability to identify potential synergies and trade-offs in ecosystem management research and practice.

The researchers received a grant to explore the effects of provision of ESC for human welfare in the cities of Tokyo. In this way, it will be possible to have a logical follow-up to test whether the pathways and mechanisms identified are developed in reality and are related to human comfort.

Over the years the connections between nature and human well-being have been explored, however, different methodologies have been used. This fragmentation makes it difficult to identify general patterns on the intangible contributions that benefit the human being.


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