Benefiting biodiversity

Soga, M. & Gaston, K.J. 2023. Nature benefit hypothesis: direct experiences of nature predict self-reported pro-biodiversity behaviours. Conservation Letters 16, e12945.

Human activities are damaging the world’s ecosystems, posing a serious threat to life on Earth, including humanity. To address this situation, widespread and significant changes in human behavior are necessary. Direct experiences of nature can encourage individuals to adopt positive actions towards biodiversity (hereafter pro-biodiversity behavior), but this relationship has not been well studied. Using a large sample of Japanese adults, we demonstrate that both recent and childhood frequencies of nature experiences are associated with an increased likelihood of exhibiting pro-biodiversity behaviors. This association was found to be consistent across various forms of behaviors, including purchasing ecofriendly products, reducing pesticide use in domestic gardens, and donating to conservation organizations. However, our research also reveals a declining trend of childhood experiences of nature in Japan, resulting in an “extinction of experience.” Our results suggest that enhancing people’s personal experiences with nature could help promote desired behavioral change to halt biodiversity loss.