Nature as a source of health and well-being: is this an ecosystem service that could pay for conserving biodiversity?
Hughes J., Pretty J., Macdonald DW.
This chapter concerns a more insidious impact: a possible detrimental effect on health and well-being for people divorced from nature. If divorce from nature is bad for health, restoring that relationship may be therapeutic. It may be possible to identify the curative or prophylactic elements of the environment, thereby creating a powerful lever for their conservation, perhaps with wider benefits for biodiversity conservation. This virtuous circle encompasses two key topics, which the authors present as hypotheses: first, that engagement with nature delivers health benefits (the ecosystem service hypothesis) and second, that these benefits are sufficient to lever directly the conservation of health-giving aspects of the environment, perhaps bundled together, as an indirect benefit, with co-benefits to wider biodiversity (the conservation leverage hypothesis). In this chapter, the authors consider stress as one possible example of how direct gains may be accrued from interaction with the nature. © 2013 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.