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Open AccessArticle

The Wellbeing Benefits Associated with Perceived and Measured Biodiversity in Australian Urban Green Spaces

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Natural and Built Environments Research Centre, University of South Australia, Mawson Lakes, South Australia 5095, Australia
2
School of Information Technology and Mathematical Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide 5000, Australia
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School of Biological Sciences, University of Adelaide, Adelaide 5000, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2019, 11(3), 802; https://doi.org/10.3390/su11030802
Received: 2 December 2018 / Revised: 22 January 2019 / Accepted: 23 January 2019 / Published: 3 February 2019
(This article belongs to the Section Social Ecology and Sustainability)
There are few studies examining the wellbeing benefits from exposure to natural environments differing in ecological attributes, such as biodiversity, and they have not had consistent results. This study progresses our understanding of the nuanced relationship between nature and wellbeing by analyzing the self-reported benefits derived from urban green spaces varying in a range of objectively measured biodiversity attributes such as bird species richness, habitat diversity, and structural heterogeneity. Respondents’ (n = 840) perceptions of biodiversity and naturalness were also examined. We identified the biodiversity attributes most strongly associated with particular benefits, as well as the types of parks where those benefits were significantly more likely to occur. Findings suggest that perceived, rather than objective measures of biodiversity are better predictors of subjective wellbeing benefits. Of the assessed biodiversity attributes, vegetation cover consistently correlated most strongly with psychological benefits. Stress reduction and mood improvement were greatest in nature parks and lowest in pocket parks. Increases in each biodiversity attribute significantly affected psychological wellbeing at different thresholds, suggesting the relationship between biodiversity and wellbeing is not linear. Thresholds of sensitivity for park attributes are discussed, with vegetation cover, naturalness, structural heterogeneity, and park type emerging as the most useful differentiators for studying human responses to nature. Our findings can help inform green space planning to maximize environmental benefits and health benefits concurrently. View Full-Text
Keywords: Biodiversity; species richness; perceptions; green space; naturalness; wellbeing benefits Biodiversity; species richness; perceptions; green space; naturalness; wellbeing benefits
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Schebella, M.F.; Weber, D.; Schultz, L.; Weinstein, P. The Wellbeing Benefits Associated with Perceived and Measured Biodiversity in Australian Urban Green Spaces. Sustainability 2019, 11, 802.

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