Relational values of nature: leverage points for nature policy in Europe

Thomas J.M. Mattijssen, Wessel Ganzevoort, Riyan J.G. Van Den Born, Bas J.M. Arts, Bas C. Breman, Arjen E. Buijs, Rosalie I. Van Dam, Birgit H.M. Elands, Wouter T. De Groot, Luuk W.J. Knippenberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Relational values reflect the qualities of the relationships between humans and nature, such as care, social bonding, place attachment and spiritual meanings. In this perspective article, we argue that understanding relational values is vital for nature conservation, and we identify how incorporation of these values may function as leverage points for achieving more effective nature policy. We discuss the distinctive features of the concept of relational values and elaborate how relational values strongly influence people’s perceptions of, engagement with and action for nature. Relational values can also provide important deep leverage points for policy interventions aiming to support citizen’s contribution to nature conservation, to strengthen biodiversity policy and the relationship between people and nature. Based on three realms of leverage (re-think, re-structure and re-connect), we distinguish six routes through which relational values can be integrated in policies and practices of nature conservation: (1) incorporation of pluralized meanings of nature; (2) the uptake of relational language in policy discourse; (3) a prioritization of landscape-based policy; (4) empowering citizens in nature conservation; (5) re-orienting nature education to stimulate people’s personal bond with nature; and (6) using digital technology to stimulate new relationships with nature.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)402-410
JournalEcosystems and People
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 29 Nov 2020

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