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Experiences of nature across cities

In 2012, the Fuller Lab worked with a team of multi-disciplinary researchers to investigate the wellbeing benefits of nature experiences to urban residents, and what made people concerned about conservation. Key publications arising from the Brisbane work has suggested that visits to outdoor green spaces of 30 minutes or more during a week could reduce population prevalence of depression and high blood pressure by 7% and 9% percent respectively (Shanahan et al., 2016), and that individual emotional connection to nature was a stronger motivator to visit outdoor green spaces over availability and ease of access to green space (Lin et al., 2014).

We are excited to be expanding this research area through several new research collaborations. Rich Fuller and PhD student Rachel Oh have just returned from a visit to Singapore, and have further concluded a writing retreat with a group of five wonderful researchers hailing from Singapore, New Zealand, UK and Australia.

SINGAPORE – In their recent trip to Singapore, Rich and Rachel had the privilege to meet with researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS), and practitioners from the National Parks Board of Singapore (NParks).

During their time at NUS, Rich and Rachel were hosted by Roman Carrasco and his extremely talented team consisting of Le, Chia-Chen, Claudia and Yu-Chen. As part of an ongoing UQ-NUS research collaboration, this team will be doing a huge amount of work over 2019 and 2020 relating to interactions between experiences of nature, biodiversity and human well-being, and to develop deeper insights as to what makes us emotionally connected to nature. The UQ-NUS team had an extremely productive 1.5 days discussing preliminary results and exploring future research direction that spans multiple disciplines of ecology, psychology and genetics.

Rich and Rachel also had the honour of meeting Kenneth (NParks’s CEO) and Dr Adrian Loo (who heads NParks’s Conservation Division). It was a fantastic bird-y affair. Over lunch and during a trip to the Sungei Buloh Nature Reserve, there were many discussions on how the Fuller lab could work with NParks to find solutions and regional opportunities to strengthen the conservation of migratory shorebird species. Rich and Rachel also spent a very insightful afternoon learning first-hand from Kenneth on how to bring nature into an urban landscape and accomplish this in a way where residents can both actively enjoy and benefit from experiencing nature.

And to update the human-bird score card for Singapore… Rich has successfully befriended the Spotted Wood Owl, but will have to return to Singapore for a re-match with that unbelievably elusive Red-legged Crake!

BRISBANE – Some of the above work with Roman also includes collaborations with Kevin Gaston (University of Exeter), Danielle Shanahan (Zealandia Centre for People and Nature) and Brenda Lin (CSIRO). This second team has a keen interest to conduct inter-city comparisons to better understand how relationships between experiences of nature, wellbeing and conservation concern change across cities. Empowered with national datasets from 3 countries and 5 cities, Rich, Roman, Danielle, Lucy, Kira, Brenda and Rachel committed to a two-day writing retreat where they had a great time renewing old and forging new friendships, engaging in stimulating discussions, exchanging perspectives and paving the way forward for more vibrant, exciting future work. There is now a collective To-Do list and the team is super excited to get some of those tasks nailed!

(Left) Rich with Kenneth at the Singapore Botanic Gardens. (Right) Rich with his new feathered friend, the Spotted Wood Owl.
(Clockwise from left) Roman, Brenda, Lucy, Rich, Danielle, Kira and Rachel