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Exposure to biodiversity increases psychological well-being

The world’s human population is becoming concentrated into cities, giving rise to concerns that it is becoming increasingly isolated from nature.

Urban public greenspaces form the arena of many people’s daily contact with nature, and such contact has measurable physical and psychological benefits.

In some work at Kevin Gaston’s Biodiversity and Macroecology Group in Sheffield, UK, we discovered that these psychological benefits increase with the species richness of urban green spaces (Fuller et al. 2007). Moreover, we demonstrated that greenspace users can more or less accurately perceive species richness, depending on the taxonomic group in question.

We measured plant species richness in 15 urban parks around Sheffield city, and asked park users to rate the degree of psychological restoration they experienced when using the parks.

Our work shows that experiences of biodiversity can increase human well-being.