Came across this article by Pergams and Zaradic (2008) titled ‘Evidence for a Fundamental and Pervasive Shift Away from Nature-Based Recreation’ and felt that the interesting results warranted sharing. The authors found, based on records in the U.S., Japan and Spain, that the number of visitors to national parks in these studied countries have fallen. They then extrapolated this to conclude that fewer people now participate in nature related activities. In the U.S.’s case, although the number of hikers and trekkers increased, this was offset by a drop in participation in activities such as hunting and fishing. This is contrary to what I believed as I thought such activities would instead become more common as affluence increased.
Fortunately, Singapore has not seen such a decline in visitors to her nature reserves yet (Auger, 2013). However, with Bukit Timah Nature Reserve’s recent closure, it would be interesting to see if people spread out to the other nature reserves or stop going altogether. If the latter occurs, it would be a pity as I feel even the other nature reserves and parks do have a lot to offer to visitors.
Here are some pictures from various nature areas in Singapore:
Collared kingfisher at Clementi Woods.
A spider that mimics bird droppings at Admiralty Park.
A scorpion under UV light at Lower Peirce Reservoir.
Tiger beetle at Dairy Farm.
So why is this a concern? Well, studies have shown that participation in nature-based activities during childhood does have an impact on environmental behaviours when they are older (Nancy M. Wells and Lekies, 2006). They found that consumptive and appreciative nature activities during childhood to be good indicators of environmental attitudes later on. Meanwhile, participation in environmental education programmes did not seem to have an effect. With nature-based activities participation rate currently falling, this might have an impact on the conservation movement in the years to come.
AUGER, T. 2013. Living in a Garden: The Greening of Singapore, Editions Didier Millet.
NANCY M. WELLS & LEKIES, K. S. 2006. Nature and the Life Course: Pathways from Childhood Nature Experiences to Adult Environmentalism. Children Youth and Environments, 16, 1-24.
PERGAMS, O. R. W. & ZARADIC, P. A. 2008. Evidence for a Fundamental and Pervasive Shift Away from Nature-Based Recreation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 105, 2295-2300.