Restricted home ranges reduce children’s opportunities to connect to nature: demographic, environmental and parental influences

Hand, Kathryn L.; Freeman, Claire; Seddon, Philip J.; Recio, Mariano R.; Stein, Aviva and van Heezik, Yolanda (2018). Restricted home ranges reduce children’s opportunities to connect to nature: demographic, environmental and parental influences. Landscape and Urban Planning, 172 pp. 69–77.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.landurbplan.2017.12.004

Abstract

While many studies have documented the decline in the extent of children’s independent movements, none have explicitly evaluated the impact of this change in behaviour on opportunities to connect with nature. We estimate and compare the biodiversity values within urban children’s home ranges, and relate exposure to biodiversity to children’s perceptions and use of their neighbourhoods. We interviewed 178 children aged 9–11 years in three New Zealand cities. While children often had biodiverse areas present within 500 m of their home, their restricted home range size meant many of these natural areas fell outside of the range of their daily movements. Children’s declining independent mobility, strongly influenced by parental restrictions, appears to limit their freedom to use diverse and natural habitats within their urban neighbourhood, with use instead focused on private gardens and formal greenspaces. Development of a connection to nature in urban areas must therefore take place primarily in private gardens, which are threatened by urban planning approaches that promote dense residential developments with public rather than private greenspace.

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