Unpacking the People–Biodiversity Paradox: A Conceptual Framework

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Abstract

Global phenomena, including urbanization, agricultural intensification, and biotic homogenization, have led to extensive ecosystem degradation, species extinctions, and, consequently, a reduction in biodiversity. However, although it is now widely asserted in the research, policy, and practice arenas that interacting with nature is fundamental to human health and well-being, there is a paucity of nuanced evidence characterizing how the living components of nature, biodiversity, play a role in this accepted truth. Understanding these human–biodiversity relationships is essential if the conservation agenda is to be aligned successfully with that of public health by policymakers and practitioners. Here, we show that an apparent “people–biodiversity paradox” is emerging from the literature, comprising a mismatch between (a) people's biodiversity preferences and how these inclinations relate to personal subjective well-being and (b) the limited ability of individuals to accurately perceive the biodiversity surrounding them. In addition, we present a conceptual framework for understanding the complexity underpinning human–biodiversity interactions.

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