Johansson lead a team which assessed how mentally refreshing different outdoor spaces are. They had Swedish adults from urban and rural areas “read scenarios concerning encounters with each of these four animals during recreational visits to a nearby natural setting. The scenarios varied in how frequently the person could expect to encounter each animal across visits (never, sometimes, often). . . . Across all areas . . .
Powerful repercussions for public space design
Open or dense, different effects
Green spaces where people and nature flourish.
Hooyberg and colleagues studied human responses to being in different sorts of spaces via virtual reality and it seems likely that their findings can also be applied in other settings. The investigators report that “beaches caused lower breathing rates than urban environments and lower SCR [skin conductance responses] than green environments. . . . the heart rate, HF-HRV [high-frequency heart rate variability], and MAP [mean arterial pressure] did not react differently to the beach than to the urban and green environments. . . .
Konijnendijk studied how treescapes can enhance human wellbeing. Konijnendijk shares that “Having trees and other vegetation in sight from one’s home, place of work, or school has important mental health and performance benefits. . . . With public green spaces in proximity to one’s home stimulates regular use of these areas and results in positive impacts on mental, physical, and social health. After analyzing existing guidelines and rules for urban green space planning and provision, a new, comprehensive guideline is presented, known as the ‘3–30–300 rule’ for urban forestry.
Gaekwad and colleagues probe the effects of natural environments on human stress levels. They report that a meta-analysis they conducted indicated “that natural environments had a small to medium effect on reducing physiological stress, compared to equivalent exposure to urban environments. . . . subgroup analysis indicated that the stress state of participants was not related to the effect of natural environments in reducing human stress, which contradicts one of the foundations of Stress Recovery Theory.
Chang and colleagues determined that our orientation to natural spaces is, at least to some extent, inherited from family members. The researchers determined that “using a twin design (TwinsUK, number of individuals = 2,306), we investigate the genetic and environmental contributions to a person’s nature orientation, opportunity (living in less urbanized areas), and different dimensions of nature experience (frequency and duration of public nature space visits and frequency and duration of garden visits).
Arbuthnott’s work verifies the positive consequences of experiencing nature in some way. Arbuthnott found via a literature review that “Nature exposure increases prosocial behavior, decreases antisocial behavior, and increases ratings of social connection and satisfaction. Prosocial and antisocial behavior effects are observed with brief nature exposure, both actual and virtual. Social connection effects are observed with long-term nature exposure, such as neighbourhood greenspace. . . .
Not all real or imagined interactions with nature are positive. Researchers report in a study published in People and Nature that “internet searches indicate a growing prevalence of various biophobias across the world. Countries with larger urban populations show interest in a broader range of nature-related phobias, supporting the idea that urban living may be linked with fear and disgust towards nature.