Dwelling in the city: A qualitative exploration of the human-nature relationship in three types of urban greenspace

The combination of increasing numbers of people in cities, coupled with decreasing levels of biodiversity, is hypothesised to result in the extinction of experience, or the continued disintegration of the human relationship with the natural world. We use the concepts of sense of place and dwelling to investigate the human relationship with nature in cities by considering the emotional connections between people and places. We conducted ‘go-along’ interviews with 21 residents of Hamilton, New Zealand, to explore the significance of neighbourhood parks and home gardens in the lives of urban residents. Our study highlights the importance of greenspaces in cities to the physical, mental and social health of local residents. Bush parks provided the best opportunities for respondents to observe nature and thereby escape the stress of city life. Participants wanted a variety of parks which would meet the range of their community’s needs and provide habitat for wildlife. Proximity and frequent use of parks resulted in a sense of ownership and responsibility which led to concrete action, such as participation in ecological restoration of valued greenspaces. Providing high quality natural greenspaces within walking distance of residents’ homes disrupts the extinction of experience by fostering positive personal experiences of nature, crucial for the health and wellbeing of people and for native biodiversity.
Journal Article
Type of thesis
Elsevier BV
This is an author’s accepted version of an article published in the journal: Landscape and Urban Planning. © 2023 Elsevier B.V.