The role of connection to natural environment in human well-being

Lead Author Johanna, Jämsä
Institution Contact No current affiliations. Simpsintie 7 a10, 90560 Oulu
Theme Theme 4: Building Long-term Human Capacity
Session Name 4.4 Circumpolar Health and Well-Being
Datetime Wed, Sep 14, 2016 11:15 AM - 11:30 AM
Presentation Type Oral
Abstract text The role of nature in human well-being is being studied in various disciplines and it is gaining more attention partly because of the rapid changing in our environment. Besides concrete material gains there are also less tangible mental health benefits that rise from connecting with nature.

At the small arctic village, Suvanto, in Finnish Lapland, people live in close connection with their surroundings. My objective was to map the integrated ways in which people gain health benefits from nature.

Eight villagers were interviewed. Special attention is paid to the tacit nature of the mental aspect of human-nature -practices. Millennium Ecosystem Assessments aspects of well-being form the framework for the interviews. These aspects are material and social well-being, safety, health and freedom of choice.

In the small arctic community nature serves as employer as well as place for hobbies. This makes the lived world flexible. Villagers know their surroundings and know how to co-operate with it in creative ways. For example due to the midnight sun one can do the timber early in the morning when it's not too hot.

The material well-being gained from forestry is important. However many experience sadness due to the regulated cuttings. That affects also negatively to the feelings of safety as one's property is controlled by outside forces. Stability of environment is important for experiencing its relaxing effect.

Nature is perceived as a safe place: storms, cold and wild animals are seen as natural and manageable but the threats rise from global issues. Connecting with the local natural environment rises a extended sense of place and worry about the global environment.

Well-being aspects are closely intertwined to each other. The possibility to express these diverse aspects is important for well-being. Greater appreciation of mental aspects would make them less tacit knowledge.
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