A path through a forest

Quality Inequalities

How do environmental quality and bio-psycho-social-spiritual factors interact to shape inequalities in people’s experience of connecting with nature and their sense of place?

Project Team:

  • Kirsti Ashworth (PI - Lancaster University)
  • Beth Nicholls (University of Sussex)
  • Nadine Andrews (Lancaster University)
  • Laura MacLean (James Hutton Institute)
  • Danielle Lambrick (University of Southampton)
  • Emma Critchley (Eden Project North)
  • Hattie Roberts (Lancaster University)
  • Isla Young (Lancaster University)
  • Scott McVean (independent researcher)

Project Summary:

This project explores the interactions between environmental quality and bio-psycho-social-spiritual factors in people’s experience of connecting with nature and their sense of place, and how these interactions affect inequalities in experience, within and between different groups.

Drawing on Eden Project North’s community links, members of the public will be invited to complete an interactive Feelings Map showing the emotions they feel in particular urban green and blue spaces in Morecambe and Lancaster. This data will be analysed together with respondents’ demographic data to identify sites and groups for two in-depth qualitative and bio-sensor case studies. The ecological and sensory quality of the two sites will be measured, and up to 12 participants recruited. The participants will explore the sites on their own with mindfulness-based prompts, recording their lived experience as they move around and engage with the site, including in locations with environmental quality characteristics of particular research interest. Participants will wear Heart Rate Variability monitors to enable triangulation of data. The project aims to bring all this data together in a multi-layer layered Feelings map to enrich our understanding of key factors and how they interact to affect nature connectedness in particular green and blue spaces.

We are interested to understand how a person’s perception of the quality of an urban space influences their experience of and sense of connectedness with that space. Experience of a space is unique to an individual and is derived from both the characteristics of the environment of that space and the individual’s biological, psychological, social and spiritual values, and previous experiences. It is the interaction between those environmental and personal factors that determines a person’s perception of comfort in a particular space. Inequalities in perception between individuals, communities and population groups shape how they then connect with, use and benefit from any particular green-blue space.

The project offers the possibility for further exploration into the implications of inequalities in nature connectedness for pro-environmental behaviour, health and wellbeing, place-making and sense of community, across different groups.