Nature interactions and their associations with connection to nature and well-being varies between different types of green spaces.

Published online
22 Sep 2023
Content type
Journal article
Journal title
People and Nature

Fleming, W. & Shwartz, A.
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Increasing urbanization leads to greater loss of interaction with nature over time in a process described as the extinction of experience. Urban green spaces are some of the most prominent sites where individuals can access and interact with nature in urban areas. There is currently a gap in research around how different types of urban green spaces influence nature interactions, their relationships with human well-being, and what influences these relationships. Greater knowledge of these connections can aid in the design of green spaces that can increase human well-being and mitigate the extinction of experience. We conducted a visitor survey in an urban nature site in Israel, which consists of both a garden and protected nature area dominated by natural Mediterranean vegetation. We aimed to understand how visitors interacted with nature at the site and how the interactions differed between the protected nature area and the garden. Both frequency of interactions and number of total interactions were measured. We also investigated the extent to which these interactions associated with nature relatedness (using the NRS scale), well-being (using overall happiness and psychological well-being) and the variables that influence nature interactions and well-being outcomes. Visitors who visited the protected nature area were more likely to interact with nature than those who only visited the garden. Nature interactions were significantly associated with an individual's nature relatedness and their perception of whether the site functioned more similarly to an urban park or a protected nature area. Living nearby was associated with greater attachment to and identity with the site, but also lower frequency of nature interactions. Nature interactions were associated with measures of well-being, including overall happiness, attachment, identity and reflection, but varied depending on well-being measures. Interactions with nature, and their benefits, are not equal based on both actual opportunity for interaction and perceptions of green spaces. Incorporating user preferences of urban green spaces for more wild nature that individuals also perceive as wilder may allow for greater interaction. Developing urban nature sites that allow for greater interaction can promote human well-being associated with interactions and combat extinction of experience.

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