The importance of urban gardens in supporting children's biophilia

Hand, Kathryn L.; Freeman, Claire; Seddon, Philip J.; Recio, Mariano R.; Stein, Aviva and van Heezik, Yolanda (2017). The importance of urban gardens in supporting children's biophilia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 114(2) pp. 274–279.



Exposure to and connection with nature is increasingly recognized as providing significant well-being benefits for adults and children. Increasing numbers of children growing up in urban areas need access to nature to experience these benefits and develop a nature connection. Under the biophilia hypothesis, children should innately affiliate to nature. We investigated children’s independent selection of spaces in their neighborhoods in relation to the biodiversity values of those spaces, in three New Zealand cities, using resource-selection analysis. Children did not preferentially use the more biodiverse areas in their neighborhoods. Private gardens and yards were the most preferred space, with the quality of these spaces the most important factor defining children’s exposure to nature. Children’s reliance on gardens and yards for nature experiences raises concerns for their development of a nature connection, given disparities in biodiversity values of private gardens in relation to socioeconomic status, and the decline in sizes of private gardens in newer urban developments.

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