Progress on changing human behaviour to meet the challenges of regional and global sustainability has been slow. Building on theory as well as small-scale survey and experimental evidence that exposure to nature may be associated with greater pro-environmentalism, the aim of the current study was to quantify relationships between exposure to nature (operationalised as neighbourhood greenspace, coastal proximity, and recreational nature visits) as well as appreciation of the natural world, and self-reported pro-environmental behaviour for the adult population of England. Using data from a nationally representative sample (N = 24,204), and controlling for potential confounders, a structural equation model was used to estimate relationships. Indirect effects of neighbourhood exposures via nature visits and nature appreciation were accounted for. We found positive relationships between both recreational nature visits and nature appreciation and pro-environmental behaviour across both the whole sample and key socio-demographic groups. The more individuals visited nature for recreation and the more they appreciated the natural world, the more pro-environmental behaviour they reported. Although rural and coastal dwellers tended to also be more pro-environmental on average, patterns were complex, potentially reflecting situational constraints and opportunities. Importantly, positive associations between pro-environmental behaviours and high neighbourhood greenspace and coastal proximity were present for both high and low socio-economic status households. Improving access to, and contact with, nature, e.g., through better urban planning, may be one approach for meeting sustainability targets.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information: The contributions of IA, MW, RD-D and LF were funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Protection Research Unit (NIHR HPRU) in Environmental Change and Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine in partnership with Public Health England (PHE) , and in collaboration with the University of Exeter , University College London , and the Met Office (United Kingdom). The UKHLS/MENE data collectors, the UK Data Archive and Natural England bear no responsibility for the analyses or interpretations presented here. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health, Public Health England, or Natural England.
Open Access: This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/BY-NC-ND/4.0/).
Publisher Copyright: © 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.
Citation: Ian Alcock, Mathew P White, Sabine Pahl, Raquel Duarte-Davidson, Lora E Fleming, Associations between pro-environmental behaviour and neighbourhood nature, nature visit frequency and nature appreciation: Evidence from a nationally representative survey in England, Environment International, Volume 136, 2020, 105441, ISSN 0160-4120,
- Green lifestyle
- Green space
- Natural environment exposure
- Nature contact
- Pro-environmental behavior
- Sustainable behavior