City children’s nature knowledge and contact: it is not just about biodiversity provision

Freeman, Claire; Stein, Aviva; Hand, Kathryn and van Heezik, Yolanda (2017). City children’s nature knowledge and contact: it is not just about biodiversity provision. Environment and Behavior, 50(10)




Much attention has been directed at the perceived decline in city children’s contact with nature. We used a child-centric approach to assess neighborhood nature knowledge in 187 children aged 9 to 11 years, from different socioeconomic and ethnic groups in three New Zealand cities. We evaluated the relative importance of social (independence, gender, social connections, deprivation, age) and environmental factors (biodiversity) in explaining variation in knowledge at a scale relevant to each child’s independent movements. Our biodiversity evaluation reflected the natural dimensions of the habitats where children interacted with nature. Generalized linear modeling identified ethnicity as having the strongest association with nature knowledge. Within each ethnic group, social factors were most important (independence, social connections, deprivation) except for Pākehā/NZ European children, where local biodiversity was most important. Enhancing biodiversity values of private green spaces (yards) would be effective in facilitating opportunities to experience nature, which is fundamental to supporting nature contact.

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