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Wednesday, 5 October 2016
Linking forest naturalness and human wellbeing—A study on public's experiential connection to remnant forests within a highly urbanized region in Malaysia
Published Date 2016, Vol.16:13–24,doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2016.01.005
Chee Hung Foo,
Unit of Consultancy & Technical Opinion, Construction Research Institute of Malaysia (CREAM), Makmal Kerja Raya Malaysia, IBS Centre, 1st Floor, Block E, Lot 8, Jalan Chan Sow Lin, 55200 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Received 12 March 2015. Revised 24 January 2016. Accepted 24 January 2016. Available online 28 January 2016.
Exploring the mechanisms of human-nature interaction.
Providing an observational support that links naturalness and human wellbeing.
Examining the benefits of nature experience.
Being the country's major economic propellers, Klang Valley region in Malaysia has been experiencing decades of extensive development. Consequently, the lowland dipterocarp forest – which was once the dominant natural ecosystem in this region – has degraded into fragmented remnants, surrounded by urbanized areas. As a degraded natural ecosystem, however, these remnants are still a key ingredient for the city's livability and urban dwellers’ quality of life, by counter-balancing the adverse impacts caused by various urban activities. While these remnants generally fulfilled various physical, mental, and social functions, exposure to different degree of development pressure and human intrusion have caused them to act differently in the way contributing to these functions. This paper presents results of a study conducted in Klang Valley region, with the general goal to contribute to the empirical rationale for linking forest naturalness with human wellbeing. Three remnants, each with different degree of naturalness, were selected as study sites and were hypothesized to contribute to the urban dwellers’ overall wellbeing by enhancing people's physical health, mental health, and social interaction, through fulfilling the motives of visiting the nature. Information on key variables was collected by surveying forest visitors and data were analyzed using path analysis, to depict the causal relationships between forest naturalness and human wellbeing. The study successfully gives the observational support to the potential relation that links together naturalness, experiential connection to nature, and human wellbeing. The study also contributes to the understanding on the meanings of remnant urban nature, which would in turn provide planners a tool to match the urban natural resource management with the needs of the residents.