Seeing Community for the Trees: The Links among Contact with Natural Environments, Community Cohesion, and Crime
Individuals may be losing touch with nature as their contact with it decreases worldwide. While the consequences for people’s personal well-being outcomes are becoming well documented, there is almost no research examining the social correlates of contact with nature. This paper used a large nationally representative sample to link objective (% greenspace) and subjective measurements of contact with nature, community cohesion, and local crime incidence. The perceived quality, views, and amount of time spent in nature were linked to more community cohesion, and in turn the perception of cohesive communities enhances individual well-being outcomes and contributions back to society through higher workplace productivity and environmentally responsible behaviors. Findings also indicated that local nature was linked to lower crime both directly and indirectly through its effects on community cohesion.