Simply noticing nature helps explain pro-nature conservation behaviours.

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There is no wellbeing without nature’s wellbeing.  Yet, the wellbeing of the planet and people are under threat from an increasingly rapid rate of wildlife loss.  A great deal of attention has been paid to the warming climate and pro-environmental behaviours—actions that reduce the energy and resources we use each day or that lead to more recycling.  Less attention has focused on pro-nature conservation behaviours (PNCB).  These actions that actively and directly support the conservation of nature and the restoration of wildlife.  Such actions include leaving undisturbed/unmaintained areas for wildlife and planting pollinator-friendly plants. Understanding what accounts for and predicts such actions is vital to addressing the biodiversity crises.  In this study, we sought to do just that—to understand what are the most important factors to PNCB.

We asked 1,298 adults from the United Kingdom about their PNCBs.  The survey also included questions on four nature-related factors: 1) how connected people felt to nature; 2) nature experiences (time in nature, engagement in simple nature activities like listening to bird song and smelling wild flowers; indirect contact with nature such as watching nature programmes); 3) knowledge about and attitudes towards nature; and 4) pro-environmental behaviour.  Results indicated that PNCB is primarily explained by how connected people feel to nature and by engagement in simple nature activities which lead to an enhanced sense of nature connectedness.  These factors were much more important than time spent in nature.

These findings mean that to help the recovery of wildlife our efforts would be best aimed at boosting individuals’ sense of nature connectedness.  Simple activities that engage our attention, emotions, and senses with the beauty of everyday nature are the most effective way to enhance our emotional connection with nature.  We need to live by a Green Care Code:  Stop—Look—Listen to the nature around you.  By reconnecting with nature we can repair our relationship with the natural world and create a thriving environment for wildlife.