Urgent Biophilia: Human-Nature Interactions in Red Zone Recovery and Resilience

  • Keith G. TidballEmail author


This contribution builds upon earlier work on the concept of biophilia while synthesizing literatures on restorative environments, community-based ecological restoration, and both community and social-ecological disaster resilience. It suggests that when humans, faced with a disaster, as individuals and as communities and populations, seek engagement with nature to further their efforts to summon and demonstrate resilience in the face of a crisis, they exemplify an urgent biophilia. This urgent biophilia represents an important set of human-nature interactions in social-ecological systems characterized by hazard, disaster, or vulnerability, often appearing in the ‘backloop’ of the adaptive cycle. The relationships that human-nature interactions have to other components within interdependent systems at many different scales may be one critical source of resilience in disaster and related contexts. In other words, the affinity we humans have for the rest of nature, the process of remembering that attraction, and the urge to express it through creation of restorative environments, which may also restore or increase ecological function, may confer resilience across multiple scales.


Urgent biophilia Restorative environments Human-nature interactions Disaster resilience Vulnerability 



I am grateful to Marianne Krasny for many critical discussions about biophilia and its explanatory utility in community greening in a general sense, as well as for multiple helpful reviews of earlier versions of this chapter. I also acknowledge the useful conversations and insightful perspectives contributed by James Tantillo and Richard Stedman on biophilia and the debates around sociobiology. I wish to express my gratitude to Lance Gunderson for his thorough and insightful review of this chapter and to Stephen Kellert for his elaboration of the biophilia hypothesis and for his invaluable review of this chapter. I am grateful to those who provided helpful feedback when this chapter was presented at the Resilience 2011 conference in Tempe, AZ. I thank all of the above-mentioned, and acknowledge that any errors of omission or commission in this chapter are only my own. Finally, though I have yet to meet him, I am indebted to E. O. Wilson for his original and courageous conceptualization of biophilia.


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Civic Ecology Lab, Department of Natural ResourcesCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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