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The benefits of biodiversity: Human-wildlife interactions in urban Guyana

Fisher, Jessica C. (2020) The benefits of biodiversity: Human-wildlife interactions in urban Guyana. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.84397) (KAR id:84397)

Language: English

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Worldwide, human populations are growing, the climate is changing, and natural habitat is being converted to alternative land-uses. In particular, urbanisation has both positive and negative implications for society and biodiversity conservation. Within cities, there is increasing evidence that green (e.g. parks, gardens) and blue spaces (e.g. rivers, coast) can benefit human subjective wellbeing by restoring attentional fatigue and reducing stress, while also providing resources to support biodiversity. However, it remains unclear how biodiversity, and other specific features of urban green and blue spaces, enhance or detract from wellbeing. These details are crucial to informing land-use management and policy decisions in towns and cities. Much of the existing evidence originates from the global North, despite biodiversity loss, population growth, and urbanisation rates accelerating in the global South. Drawing on theories and methods from multiple disciplines, this thesis empirically explores relationships between green and blue spaces and human wellbeing in Georgetown, the capital city of Guyana. This biodiversity-rich country in northern South America has the highest rate of suicide worldwide and is poised to transform due to the discovery of vast quantities of off-shore oil. First, I expose a dose-response relationship between patterns of visitor use to urban green and blue spaces and experiential wellbeing, finding that age, safety concerns, and nature-relatedness dictate patterns of use. Second, I show that green and coastal blue spaces are important for bird diversity and human wellbeing respectively, although the two do not relate. Third, I assess how human perceptions of bird diversity, naturalness, sounds, and safety affect wellbeing, influenced by how restorative these spaces are perceived to be. Finally, I use participatory video to triangulate earlier findings, discovering that biodiversity provides a multisensory experience, with place attachment, personal insecurity, and cultural beliefs contributing to wellbeing in green and coastal blue space. This interdisciplinary thesis makes important empirical contributions to the field of biodiversity-wellbeing research, representing the first evidence gathered from neotropical South America. Overall, my results provide a valuable evidence-base to inform the development of interventions (e.g. targeted public health and educational campaigns) in biodiversity-rich cities like Georgetown. From a wider perspective, these findings could be harnessed by policy-makers striving to meet international targets on sustainability while maximising human quality of life at a national scale.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Davies, Zoe
Thesis advisor: Bicknell, Jake
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.84397
Uncontrolled keywords: biodiversity; blue space; conservation; green space; global South; Guyana; human-wildlife interactions; mental health; wellbeing; urban planning
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Funders: Organisations -1 not found.
SWORD Depositor: System Moodle
Depositing User: System Moodle
Date Deposited: 24 Nov 2020 10:10 UTC
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2022 10:05 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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