Ecology of interactions between people and nature

Soga, M. & Gaston, K.J. (2020) The ecology of human-nature interactions. Proc. R. Soc. B, online early.

The direct interactions between people and nature are critically important in many ways, with growing attention particularly on their impacts on human health and wellbeing (both positive and negative), on people’s attitudes and behaviour towards nature, and on the benefits and hazards to wildlife. A growing evidence base is accelerating the understanding of different forms that these direct human–nature interactions take, novel analyses are revealing the importance of the opportunity and orientation of individual people as key drivers of these interactions, and methodological develop- ments are increasingly making apparent their spatial, temporal and socio- economic dynamics. Here, we provide a roadmap of these advances and identify key, often interdisciplinary, research challenges that remain to be met. We identified several key challenges, including the need to characterize individual people’s nature interactions through their life course, to deter- mine in a comparable fashion how these interactions vary across much more diverse geographical, cultural and socio-economic contexts that have been explored to date, and to quantify how the relative contributions of people’s opportunity and orientation vary in shaping their nature inter- actions. A robust research effort, guided by a focus on such unanswered questions, has the potential to yield high-impact insights into the fundamen- tal nature of human–nature interactions and contribute to developing strategies for their appropriate management.