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Tuesday, 18 May 2021 10:30

The Circular Benefits of Participation in Nature-Based Solutions

A new paper led by Dr Macarena Cárdenas and Professor Steven Loiselle, from Earthwatch Europe, assesses how taking part in nature-based citizen science increases an individual’s commitment towards nature, compared with more passive form of engagement. The research identified that citizen science increases motivation and an individual’s likelihood to take positive actions for nature.

Covid-19 restrictions have highlighted that it is more important than ever to identify sustainable coping mechanisms for mental and physical health. Nature, especially urban green spaces, can be beneficial for improving mental health and creating thriving communities. Nature-based solutions - methods that use nature and/or natural processes – also provide a sustainable method to tackle the effects of climate change and urbanization, providing a long-term solution to some of the environmental challenges of modern life.

The paper examines survey data collected from 1955 participants across 17 cities worldwide. The study assessed two types of activities, citizen science activities (hands-on) and reflective activities (passive), considering the time spent at each activity and the degree of green deprivation in each city.  And, ultimately, which had more impact on their motivation and willingness to be more environmentally sustainable.

The results highlight the benefits, for both nature and an individual, that come from engaging in nature-based citizen science activities. It was found that a couple of hours of activity per day, for two days in a week, demonstrated a significant increase in motivation and willingness to care for the environment across all countries and cultures of those surveyed. The passive activities also showed some positive impact.

This research demonstrates that both hands-on and passive activities can raise awareness about nature, but by giving people minimal in-field guidance and tools for a deeper understanding of natural systems we can create more substantial positive impact. Activities that engage communities with nature can be used as a framework for councils, educators, and community leaders to increase wellbeing for people and nature.

Read the full paper. 

Cárdenas, M. L., Hagen-Zanker, A., Hutchins, M. G., Loiselle, S., Seifert-Dähnn, I., Wilde, V.  (2021) The Circular Benefits of Participation in Nature-Based SolutionsSustainability, 13(8), p.4344. 

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