Bites, stings and phobias

Soga, M. & Gaston, K.J. 2022. The dark side of nature experience: typology, dynamics and implications of negative sensory interactions with nature. People and Nature, online early.

1. The human health benefits of direct sensory interactions with nature (hereafter direct human–nature interactions) are increasingly recognised. However, these interactions can also have various negative health and well-being impacts on people, some of which may be severe. Compared to positive ones, there has been relatively little investigation of such negative direct human–nature interactions beyond the medical literature, and what has been done is widely scattered across disciplines.

2. Here, we provide an overview of the typology, characteristics and dynamics of negative direct sensory interactions with nature and suggest management implications and future research directions.

3. We highlight the breadth of forms that negative direct human–nature interactions occur, and evidence that the incidences of some have recently grown rapidly in many parts of the world.

4. Our review also suggests that more intense negative direct human–nature interactions can sometimes occur simultaneously or sequentially with more positive ones, and there may be trade-offs between the two.

5. Such serious implications highlight the importance of focusing research and public policy on improving the understanding of negative direct human–nature interactions, taking a more balanced view of the benefits and costs of nature experiences, and developing appropriate mitigation strategies.