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The influence of landscape change on multiple dimensions of human–nature connectedness

Maraja Riechers, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University Lueneburg
Ágnes Balázsi, Ecosystem Services Laboratory, Environmental Sciences, Sapientia Hungarian University of Transylvania
David J. Abson, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University Lueneburg
Joern Fischer, Faculty of Sustainability, Leuphana University Lueneburg


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Human–nature connectedness is hailed as a potential remedy for the current sustainability crisis, yet it is also deeply affected by it. Here, we perform a comprehensive assessment of human–nature connectedness that includes material, experiential, cognitive, emotional, and philosophical dimensions. We show that these dimensions of human–nature connectedness are strongly interlinked, especially via emotional and experiential connectedness. Our findings showcase a cross-country comparison of four focal landscapes in Transylvania, Romania and Lower Saxony, Germany, which represent gradients from minor and gradual to relatively major and rapid landscape change. Based on content analysis of 73 in-depth interviews, we show that landscape change was seen by the interviewees to have a strong, and often negative, influence on multiple dimensions of human–nature connectedness. Focusing only on isolated dimensions of human–nature connectedness could inadvertently exacerbate the sustainability crisis because unawareness about relationships between dimensions of connectedness may lead to false predictions regarding policy implications.

Key words

agricultural intensification; landscape sustainability science; smallholder farming; social-ecological systems

Copyright © 2020 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087