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Conference paper

Connecting with nature in urban green space: nonmaterial benefits perceived by green space users in Perth, Western Australia

Cities and towns Wellbeing Perth
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apo-nid178411.docx 220.06 KB

Urban green spaces (UGS) like parks, sports grounds and bush reserves provide opportunities for city dwellers to interact with the natural environment. Our study sought to establish the importance of UGS for city dwellers to not only interact, but ‘connect’, with nature given that research suggests that this enhances wellbeing. We also sought to examine the importance of nonmaterial benefits to users’ experience of UGS and for facilitating connection with nature. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 green space users in the City of Stirling, a local government area in Perth, Western Australia. Results showed that nonmaterial benefits, such as discovery and relaxation, featured strongly in descriptions of green space experience, and there is evidence that people do connect with nature in UGS. Biophysical attributes of green space such as scale and vegetation influenced the perception of benefits, as did the values held by individuals. The latter was most evident in differences between nonmaterial benefits emphasised by different UGS user groups, specifically environmental stewards compared to non-stewards. Understanding connecting with nature in the city, and underpinning factors, may assist the management of UGS for human wellbeing. However, our findings demonstrate a complex interplay between social and biophysical factors and connecting with nature, suggesting there is no easy one-size-fits-all solution.

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