Nature experiences make children healthier, stronger, and more prone to protect the environment in the future. But, which kind of nature?
I began exploring this question in 2014. It took me four years to even get close to an answer, and I am still working on it. In 2018, I published an academic paper in which I present the Assessment framework for Children’s Human Nature Situations (ACHUNAS). This project have asked 275 international specialists about what is children's connection to nature, and what are the nature experiences that nurture it. The results suggest that nature experiences that connect children to nature have 16 qualities. Also, that connection to nature is a collection of the abilities children can, or not, display. From being able to be comfortable in nature to being able to care for nature. This framework has been designed so that professionals can assess children's connection to nature and also the nature activities that influence it. However, in which natural environments connecting nature experiences occur is is still unknown. But not for much longer.
In collaboration with PhD student Vivika Mäkelä, and MSc student Abigail Garnett, I aim to answer this question. We are currently working together with schools in Sweden and Brasil to map out key physical characteristics that define a natural environment that can connect children to nature. We are getting closer to fully understand sustainable human habitats that connect people with nature.
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