Nature-based biopsychosocial resilience: An integrative theoretical framework for research on nature and health

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Nature-based solutions including urban forests and wetlands can help communities cope better with climate change and other environmental stressors by enhancing social-ecological resilience. Natural ecosystems, settings, elements and affordances can also help individuals become more personally resilient to a variety of stressors, although the mechanisms underpinning individual-level nature-based resilience, and their relations to social-ecological resilience, are not well articulated. We propose ‘nature-based biopsychosocial resilience theory’ (NBRT) to address these gaps. Our framework begins by suggesting that individual-level resilience can refer to both: a) a person’s set of adaptive resources; and b) the processes by which these resources are deployed. Drawing on existing nature-health perspectives, we argue that nature contact can support individuals build and maintain biological, psychological, and social (i.e. biopsychosocial) resilience-related resources. Together with nature-based social-ecological resilience, these biopsychosocial resilience resources can: i) reduce the risk of various stressors (preventive resilience); ii) enhance adaptive reactions to stressful circumstances (response resilience), and/or iii) facilitate more rapid and/or complete recovery from stress (recovery resilience). Reference to these three resilience processes supports integration across more familiar pathways involving harm reduction, capacity building, and restoration. Evidence in support of the theory, potential interventions to promote nature-based biopsychosocial resilience, and issues that require further consideration are discussed.


Mathew P. White, Terry Hartig, Leanne Martin, Sabine Pahl, Agnes E. van den Berg, Nancy M. Wells, Caroline Costongs, Angel.M. Dzhambov, Lewis R. Elliott, Alba Godfrey, Arnulf Hartl, Cecil Konijnendijk, Jill S. Litt, Rebecca Lovell, Freddie Lymeus, Colm O'Driscoll, Christina Pichler, Sarai Pouso, Nooshin Razani, Laura Secco, Maximilian O. Steininger, Ulrika K. Stigsdotter, Maria Uyarra, Matilda van den Bosch, Nature-based biopsychosocial resilience: An integrative theoretical framework for research on nature and health, Environment International, Volume 181, 2023, 108234, ISSN 0160-4120,