Sustainability Science

, Volume 13, Issue 5, pp 1375–1388 | Cite as

Human–nature connectedness as a ‘treatment’ for pro-environmental behavior: making the case for spatial considerations

  • Kathleen Klaniecki
  • Julia Leventon
  • David J. Abson
Original Article
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Concepts, Methodology, and Knowledge Management for Sustainability Science


The degree to which an individual feels connected to the natural world can be a positive predictor of pro-environmental behavior (PEB). This has led to calls to ‘reconnect to nature’ as a ‘treatment’ for PEB. What is not clear is the relationship between where one feels connected to nature and where one acts pro-environmentally. We propose that integrating spatial scale into the conceptualization of these constructs will provide insights into how different degrees of connectedness influence pro-environmental behavior. We discuss trends towards a spatial understanding of human–nature connectedness (HNC) and introduce three archetypes that highlight scalar relationships between scale of connectedness and scale of pro-environmental behavior: (1) equal interactions, (2) embedded interactions, and (3) extended interactions. We discuss potential policy and practice implications of taking a spatially explicit approach to HNC–PEB research, and propose a research agenda for investigating these scalar relationships that can inform nature as a ‘treatment’ intervention.


Nature connectedness Pro-environmental behavior Local-to-global scales Nature as treatment Sustainability 



This research is supported by the VolkswagenStiftung and the Niedersächsisches Ministerium für Wissenshaft und Kultur funded project “Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation: Institutions, People and Knowledge” (Grant number A112269). The authors thank Christopher D. Ives, Maraja Riechers, Christian Dorninger, and Ioana A. Duse for their helpful feedback during the development of this paper.


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© Springer Japan KK, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of SustainabilityLeuphana University of LüneburgLüneburgGermany
  2. 2.Centre for Sustainability ManagementLeuphana University of LüneburgLüneburgGermany

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