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Title: Biodiversity and human well-being : the value of human-nature interactions for people and conservation
Author: Pett, Tristan John
ISNI:       0000 0004 7963 8671
Awarding Body: University of Kent
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2018
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Over the past century the human population has rapidly expanded and people have moved from rural to urban areas. More than half of all people now live in towns and cities. In high-income regions, such as Western Europe, this proportion is much higher and, for many people, the principal place they encounter biodiversity is within urban areas. As a result of biodiversity declines, it has been argued that people are becoming increasingly disconnected from nature. This is concerning as there is a growing body of evidence that links interacting with nature with multiple benefits for human health and well-being. Such benefits are also of particular interest for conservationists, who wish to better align the maintenance of biodiversity in human dominated landscapes with the public health agenda in order to leverage funding and support. However, there has so far been a lack of nuanced evidence characterising how biodiversity per se plays a role in providing these benefits. Through a series of case studies from different study systems, this thesis investigates some of the specific attributes of biodiversity that people perceive, prefer, value and gain benefits from. This is done through employing novel interdisciplinary methodologies, combining approaches from ecology, economics, psychology, public health and conservation social science. Through these studies the potentials for win-wins and trade-offs in interventions designed for biodiversity conservation and human well-being, are also explored. First, people's values towards native and non-native bird species, and their management, are identified and it is found that people's familiarity with species, and perceptions of species attractiveness, is of greater importance to their preferences than whether a species is native or not. Second, people's perceptions and values towards wildflower meadows, planted for the benefit of pollinators in urban greenspaces, are quantified. It is found that people could generally perceive ecological characteristics, such as species richness, but this did not influence their self-reported connection to nature. Thirdly, the same flower meadows study system is used to explore people's preferences for increases in biodiversity, investigating how people value sites for varying functional and aesthetic features, and how these values vary due to people's connectedness to nature. The final study considers the relationship between access to greenspaces and people's level of physical activity, finding an importance of site naturalness for certain human populations. Each of these findings has implications for the design of conservation interventions, which must consider how people perceive and value biodiversity in order to achieve successful outcomes. Each chapter also contributes to the advancement and validation of methodologies within this multidisciplinary field. Overall, this thesis addresses key knowledge gaps in understanding human-biodiversity interactions and suggest that there is a more complex relationship between biodiversity, well-being and connection to nature than is sometimes assumed. These complexities must be better considered within socio-ecological research, and ultimately within ecological management, in order to maximise the potential for win-wins for biodiversity conservation and people.
Supervisor: Davies, Zoe ; Roberts, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: GN Anthropology