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Wellbeing and urban living: nurtured by nature

Abstract

In recent decades, empirical evidence has demonstrated that nature can enable urban environments to support human wellbeing. Research into links between nature and human wellbeing is often carried out with one wellbeing index or in single locations, which can limit our understanding of findings. To further this work, we deployed an online survey to residents of the two most-populous cities in both Australia and New Zealand. The survey measured self-reported wellbeing via three indices used widely in the literature: general wellbeing (WHO-5), personal wellbeing, and psychological wellbeing. We compared results with two biodiversity indicators: bird species richness and the Normalised Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) of respondents’ postcodes. We also asked respondents to rate the amount of nature they view from their immediate environment: both at home and at work or other frequent location. Our results support a link between local nature and human wellbeing across all four cities, significantly in the two Australian cities. Qualitative data reveals that urban life can challenge human wellbeing by creating a unique suite of stresses that residents strive to balance. There is the potential for nature to support human wellbeing in typically degraded urban environments. While this work corroborates existing literature demonstrating links between human wellbeing and nature, our qualitative research extends our understanding of these links by providing more detailed and nuanced information.

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Fig. 1

Change history

  • 01 August 2018

    Table 3 contained an error in how the degrees of freedom are displayed. The comma separating the model (e.g., 1) and error (e.g., 121) has been deleted in the Auckland, Melbourne, and Sydney columns. Where the degrees of freedom should read “1,121”, for example, it displays as “1121”. The corrected table follows.

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Correspondence to Lucy Taylor.

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Taylor, L., Hahs, A.K. & Hochuli, D.F. Wellbeing and urban living: nurtured by nature. Urban Ecosyst 21, 197–208 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11252-017-0702-1

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Keywords

  • Wellbeing
  • NDVI
  • Biodiversity
  • Urban
  • WHO-5