Fuller, R.A. & Irvine, K.N. 2010. Interactions between people and nature in urban environments. Pp. 134–171 in: Gaston, K.J. (ed.) Urban Ecology. Cambridge University Press.
Since the dawn of human civilisation, people have interacted with nature, most notably to harness the resources that have fuelled the human enterprise. The sheer rate and scale of human appropriation of natural resources has precipitated a biodiversity crisis currently being manifested in rapid rates of species extinctions, extensive transformation of the structure and function of ecosystems, and rapid alterations to the Earth’s climate. The biodiversity crisis is a result of human activity, so the solutions to it will depend largely on human actions, on understanding and enhancing the way that we all interact with nature. Because most people on the planet live in towns and cities, the majority of our daily interactions with nature take place in urban environments, and this has led to a recent upsurge of interest in the dynamics of these relationships. Despite the manifest impoverishment of the natural environment in urban areas, or perhaps because of it, many urban dwellers seek out interaction with nature in some form, for example by visiting a local green space, or feeding backyard birds. Yet our understanding of these interactions is nascent, principally because their study requires work across several disciplinary boundaries.