More biodiversity makes us all happy!

For the first time, scientists from Germany have examined the impact of diverse nature on the mental well-being on a European scale. Previously, researchers only looked at people’s mental state in small scale studies. The pandemic restrictions provided a good chance to examine the effects of outdoor activities and the results are worth sharing! People are feeling better when the nature around them is more diverse.

European quality of Life Survey

The researchers from the Senckenberg Gesellschaft für Naturforschung and the University of Kiel conducted the research. It used the data from the “2012 European quality of Life Survey” and available data on species diversity of birds. The outcome of the results indicate that people are generally more satisfied with their lives when they live in an area with high species diversity.

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.

Joel Methorst
PhD student at the Senckenberg Biodiversity and Climate Research Center

Based on birds

The researchers used the data available on bird species diversity as birds are a good indicator for overall biological diversity. They are well visible for people, both in rural and urban areas. Also, their presence can be noticed by their songs, even if the people do not see the birds themselves. Furthermore, birds like to reside in areas with natural features, so places with more nature such as parks, forests, fields and wetlands.

The researchers compared whether how the impact of bird biodiversity was against the general income of people. The outcome showed how people’s life satisfaction increased similarly when fourteen additional birds species were present in the vicinity, compared to when households earn monthly 124 euros extra. This comparison is based on the average income of 1 237 euro per month in Europe.

Human well-being at risk

The human well-being thus depends a lot on the natural diversity surrounding people. It is evident that during the corona pandemic restrictions people’s well-being declined. Due to the restrictions, many people reduced their time out and about, spending more time working from home. At the same time, there is a general trend of bird diversity decline in Europe and the rest of the world. Especially in agricultural landscapes bird species are disappearing. This in an indicator that the natural diversity is very likely also undergoing this decline. This poses a risk that human well-being will worsen even more.

It is therefore important that we protect nature and her biodiversity. People should feel the necessity not only for nature in general, but for their own well-being as well. If you are interested, read all details of the study below!

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