Science Daily – “A high biodiversity in our vicinity is as important for life satisfaction as our income, scientists found. All across Europe, the individual enjoyment of life correlates with the number of surrounding bird species. An additional 10% of bird species therefore increases the Europeans’ life satisfaction as much as a comparable increase in income. Nature conservation thus constitutes an investment in human well-being. Under the current pandemic conditions, activities out in nature are a popular pastime. The beneficial effects of a diverse nature on people’s mental health have already been documented by studies on a smaller scale. Scientists of the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung, the iDiv, and the University of Kiel now examined for the first time whether a diverse nature also increases human well-being on a Europe- wide scale. To this end, the researchers used the data from the “2012 European quality of Life Survey” to study the connection between the species diversity in their surroundings and the life satisfaction in more than 26,000 adults from 26 European countries. Species diversity was measured based on the diversity of avian species, as documented in the European breeding bird atlas.
Europeans are particularly satisfied with their lives if their immediate surroundings host a high species diversity,” explains the study’s lead author, Joel Methorst, a doctoral researcher at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, the iDiv, and the Goethe University in Frankfurt. “According to our findings, the happiest Europeans are those who can experience numerous different bird species in their daily life, or who live in near-natural surroundings that are home to many species.” “We also examined the socio-economic data of the people that were surveyed, and, much to our surprise, we found that avian diversity is as important for their life satisfaction as is their income,” explains Prof. Dr. Katrin Böhning-Gaese, director of the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Centre, professor at the Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main, and member of the iDiv. This result becomes particularly obvious when both values increase by ten percent. Fourteen additional bird species in the vicinity raise the level of life satisfaction at least as much as an extra 124 Euros per month in the household account, based on an average income of 1,237 Euro per month in Europe…”
- Story Source: Materials provided by German Centre for Integrative Biodiversity Research (iDiv) Halle-Jena-Leipzig.
- Journal Reference: Joel Methorst, Katrin Rehdanz, Thomas Mueller, Bernd Hansjürgens, Aletta Bonn, Katrin Böhning-Gaese. The importance of species diversity for human well-being in Europe. Ecological Economics, 2020; 106917 DOI: 10.1016/j.ecolecon.2020.106917