We mentioned Miles Richardson a couple of weeks ago.  He says that the pathways to nature connection are:

  • Contact – The act of engaging with nature through the senses for pleasure e.g. listening to birdsong, smelling wild flowers, watching the sunset.
  • Beauty – Engagement with the aesthetic qualities of nature, e.g. appreciating natural scenery or engaging with nature through the arts.
  • Meaning – Using nature or natural symbolism (e.g. language and metaphors) to represent an idea, thinking about the meaning of nature and signs of nature, e.g. the first swallow of summer.
  • Emotion – An emotional bond with, and love for nature e.g. talking about, and reflecting on your feelings about nature.
  • Compassion – Extending the self to include nature, leading to a moral and ethical concern for nature e.g. making ethical product choices, being concerned with animal welfare.

Richardson says that generally speaking, nature contact and knowledge based activities are often used in an attempt to engage people with nature but the specific routes to nature connectedness have not been examined systematically, until now. He says that the latest research has revealed there’s a need to go beyond activities that simply engage people with nature through knowledge and identification, to pathways that develop a more meaningful and emotional relationship with nature.