Research shows that people who live in built up areas are less likely to take actions that benefit the environment and that developing urban green-areas could increase sustainability.
A study led by the University of Exeter indicates that the policies dedicated to developing green spaces in urban areas could help influence individuals to act in a more sustainable manor, subsequently helping governments reach their environmental targets.
Published in Environment International, the study was funded by NHIR Health Protection Research Unit in Environmental Change and Health. Researchers analysed survey responses from more than 24,000 people living in England. Focusing on individual’s exposure to nature, their recreational visits to natural environments (parks, woodlands, beaches etc) and the extent to which they valued the natural world.
The research was the product of a collaboration, including the University of Exeter, the University of Plymouth and Public Health England. The team found that many green choices were more likely to be taken by those living in greener areas or the coast as well as those who spent more time in nature.
Lead author Dr Ian Alcock, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “Over 80 per cent of the English population now live in urban areas and are increasingly detached from the natural world.
“Greening our cities is often proposed to help us adapt to climate change – for example, city parks and trees can reduce urban heat spots.
“But our results suggest urban greening could help reduce the damaging behaviours which cause environmental problems in the first place by reconnecting people to the natural word.”
Co-researcher Dr Mat White, of the University of Exeter Medical School, said: “The results are correlational so there is always the issue of untangling cause and effect, but our results based on a very large representative sample are consistent with experimental work which shows that people become more pro-environmental after time spent in natural vs. urban settings.”