Providing for wildlife

Cox, D.T.C. & Gaston, K.J. 2018. Human-nature interactions and the consequences and drivers of provisioning wildlife. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B 373, 20170092.

Many human populations are undergoing an extinction of experience, with a progressive decline in interactions with nature. This is a consequence both of a loss of opportunity for, and orientation towards, such experiences. The trend is of concern in part because interactions with nature can be good for human health and wellbeing. One potential means of redressing these losses is through the intentional provision of resources to increase wildlife populations in close proximity to people, thereby increasing the potential for positive human-nature experiences, and thence the array of benefits that can result. In this paper we review the evidence that these resource subsidies have such a cascade of effects. In some westernised countries, the scale of provision is extraordinarily high, and doubtless leads to both positive and negative impacts for wildlife. In turn, these impacts often lead to more frequent, reliable and closer human-nature interactions, with a greater variety of species. The consequences for human wellbeing remain poorly understood, although benefits documented in the context of human-nature interactions more broadly seem likely to apply. There are also some important feedback loops that need to be better characterised if resource provisioning is to contribute effectively towards averting the extinction of experience. Download pdf