Increased appreciation of forests and their restorative effects during the COVID-19 pandemic

Pichlerová, Magdaléna, Výbošťok, Jozef, Önkal, Dilek, Lamatungga, Kiki Ekiawan, Tamatam, Dhanalakshmi, Marcineková, Lenka and Pichler, Viliam (2023) Increased appreciation of forests and their restorative effects during the COVID-19 pandemic. Ambio. ISSN 0044-7447 (In Press)

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Official URL: https://doi.org/10.1007/s13280-022-01816-x

Abstract

Public expectations of forests as high-quality restorative environments that facilitate subjective well-being and stress relief along with numerous health benefits have been rising sharply during recent decades. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic and its accompanying restrictive measures also transformed forests into some of the few places to spend time away from home. The presented study drew on the assumption that the pandemic situation and a rise in the number of forest visits would affect the experience, recognition, and appreciation of the well-being aspects related to spending time in forests. The study goal was to elucidate the potential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the relationships between forest visits, well-being and stress relief, emotions, perception of nature and forest value and importance, pro-environmental behavior, and societal expectations of the role of forests and forest ecosystem services. A survey using a digital questionnaire was conducted several months after the pandemic outbreak on a representative sample of the Slovak population. The Wilcoxon test and ordinal regression analysis were used to identify significant relationships, e.g., between the recency of anger episodes and the number of forest visits. The results showed that the pandemic strengthened the perception of forests as a high-quality restorative environment and that emotions associated with forest visits played an important role in the perceived importance of forests and their possible overexploitation. The results underscore the urgent need to put demands for forest recreation on par with the forest bioeconomy and to sensitize forest visitors to management and conservation requirements.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: Funding Information: This research was funded by the Project RISE-WELL—Critical solutions for elderly well-being (Grant Agreement No. 860173) awarded by the European Commission through the MSCA-ITN-EID: European Industrial Doctorates Funding Scheme (H2020-MSCA-ITN-2019), the Project CHARMED—Characterization of a green microenvironment and to study its impact upon health and well-being in the elderly as a way forward for health tourism (Grant Agreement No. 734684) awarded by the European Commission through the Horizon 2020-MSCA-RISE-2016 Scheme, and the Grant Number 1/0836/18 awarded by the Scientific Grant Agency of Ministry of Education, Science, Research, and Sport of the Slovak Republic.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Forest exploitation, Forests, Ordinal regression, Restorative environment, Stress relief, Subjective well-being
Subjects: F800 Physical and Terrestrial Geographical and Environmental Sciences
Department: Faculties > Business and Law > Newcastle Business School
Depositing User: Rachel Branson
Date Deposited: 18 Jan 2023 09:42
Last Modified: 18 Jan 2023 09:45
URI: https://nrl.northumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/51194

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