By Thomas Beery, Anton Stahl Olafsson, Sandra Gentin, Megan Mauer, Sanna Stålhammar, Christian Albert, Claudia Bieling, Arjen Buijs, Nora Fagerholm, Maria Garcia-Marin, Tobias Plieninger, and Christopher Raymond.
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What is disconnection from nature? How to understand disconnection and why is it important?
There is increased focus on human nature connections in the academic literature and society. Ideas here span around the extent of how much individuals feel connected to nature, what benefits they derive from a relationship, and how this feeling seems to relate to pro-environmental perceptions and behaviors. Therefore, human-nature connections relate to a transformative change in our society regarding people’s motivations to tackle grand challenges such as biodiversity loss and climate change. However, only limited focus has been on types and drivers of why and how people are not connected or are disconnected from nature.
In this perspective paper, we develop our understanding of disconnection to support the work on people’s nature connections. We explore types of disconnections from nature and argue that we must expand the focus from the individual to sociocultural, political, and institutional levels.
We illustrate these levels through case studies, arguing, for example, that one’s cultural background influences connections and disconnections, immigrants who need time to (re)connect to new and unknown environments. In addition, people’s connection and disconnections from agricultural animals are strongly influenced by industrial types of meat production somewhere across the Globe, explicitly aiming to disconnect consumers from meat production practices or the political and sociocultural exclusion to urban nature in South Africa, also related to safety issues as well as the explicit exclusion for certain groups to connect with nature in certain areas. Types of disconnections extend across many human contexts, from individual to social meaning-making. Therefore, social and societal processes are essential to include in future work on human-nature relations.