Evaluating connection to nature and the relationship with conservation behaviour in children
‘Connection to nature’ is a multidimensional trait thought to be important for developing positive conservation behaviours, and strengthening people’s connection to nature has become the focus for many conservation activities. A connection to nature may be developed through repeated engagement with nature, and experiences during childhood are thought to be particularly significant. However, many children today are considered to have a low connection to nature, presenting a critical challenge for the future of nature conservation. Several instruments have been developed for measuring connection to nature. These instruments are important for establishing current levels and thresholds of connection and evaluating efforts to improve connection, yet the way the instruments and the derived scores relate to the term ‘connection’ frequently used in conservation discourse has, so far, been overlooked. In this study, we interrogate Cheng et al’s (2012) Connection to Nature Index (CNI) and develop a refined “gradient of connection” based on the instrument structure, proposing boundaries of low (below 4.06), mild (between 4.06 and 4.56) and strong (over 4.56) connection that are relevant for conservation activities. Furthermore, we show how the suggested boundaries relate to self-reported conservation behaviours with a high probability of performing behaviours (> 70%) only reached at strong levels of connection. Our data show that, in agreement with current perceptions, the population of UK children surveyed have a low connection to nature and are unlikely to be performing many conservation behaviours. This demonstrates how the index can be used to measure and evaluate connection in populations in a way that will enhance future conservation efforts.
Work carried out in conjunction with the RSPB and the University of Derby The file attached to this record is the author's final peer reviewed version. The Publisher's final version can be found by following the DOI link.
Citation : Hughes, J., Richardson, M. and Lumber, R. (2018) Evaluating connection to nature and the relationship with conservation behaviour in children. Journal for Nature Conservation, 45, pp. 11-19
Research Institute : Institute for Psychological Science
Peer Reviewed : Yes