By Masashi Soga and Kevin Gaston.
Read the full paper here.
Direct sensory interactions with nature (hereafter direct human-nature interactions) contribute to
improved human health and wellbeing in diverse ways. For example, visiting countryside or urban
greenspaces has been found to benefit people’s physical, mental and social health. Viewing trees
through a window and listening to bird song may also offer relief from mental fatigue and stress. Such
benefits derived from nature experiences are now widely recognised, and there is broad consensus that
a regular ‘dose’ of nature is good for human health and wellbeing.
However, direct human-nature interactions also have various negative health and wellbeing impacts
on people, with consequences ranging from potentially severe (e.g., being attacked by large mammals,
being stung by venomous wasps) to inconvenient (e.g., suffering from noise nuisance caused by birds,
encountering wild animals that cause a phobic-like reaction). Compared to positive ones there has been
relatively little discussion of such negative direct human-nature interactions beyond the medical
In this review, we summarise current knowledge about negative direct sensory interactions with nature
and suggest management implications and future research directions. We found that in many parts of
the world, in both higher and lower income countries, some kinds of negative direct human-nature
interactions are increasing at a rapid pace. Our review also suggests that more intense negative human-nature interactions can often occur simultaneously with more positive ones. This highlights that there needs to be a more balanced view of the benefits and costs of direct human-nature interactions and a clear recognition of the inevitable trade-offs that potentially exist between the two. Determining ways of maximising beneficial outcomes of direct human-nature interactions, while minimising negative
consequences for both humans and nature, is a major challenge in the ‘Anthropocene’.