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. 2020 Jan 7;15(1):e0227311.
doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0227311. eCollection 2020.

The Regenerative Compatibility: A Synergy Between Healthy Ecosystems, Environmental Attitudes, and Restorative Experiences

Free PMC article

The Regenerative Compatibility: A Synergy Between Healthy Ecosystems, Environmental Attitudes, and Restorative Experiences

Matteo Giusti et al. PLoS One. .
Free PMC article


Urban nature is and will be the most common provider of nature interactions for humankind. The restorative benefits of nature exposure are renown and creating human habitats that simultaneously support people's wellbeing and ecological sustainability is an urgent priority. In this study, we investigate how the relationship between environmental attitudes and healthy ecosystems influences restorative experiences combining a place-based online survey with geographical data on ecosystem health in Stockholm (Sweden). Using spatial regression, we predict the 544 restorative experiences (from 325 respondents), with people's environmental attitudes, natural land covers, ecosystem health, and the statistical interactions among these variables as predictors. Our results show that restorative experiences can happen anywhere in the urban landscape, but when they occur in natural environments, the combined levels of biodiversity and ecological connectivity are better predicting factor than the mere presence of nature. That is, healthy ecosystems seem to be more important than just any nature for restorative experiences. Moreover, the statistical interaction between one's environmental attitudes and natural environments predict almost all restorative experiences better than when these variables are independent predictors. This suggests that there is synergistic compatibility between environmental attitudes and healthy ecosystems that triggers restorative processes. We call this synergy regenerative compatibility. Regenerative compatibility is an unexploited potential that emerges when people's attitudes and ecosystems are aligned in sustainability. We consider regenerative compatibility a valuable leverage point to transform towards ecologically sustainable and healthy urban systems. To this end, we encourage multifaceted policy interventions that regenerate human-nature relationships holistically rather than implement atomistic solutions.

Conflict of interest statement

The authors have declared that no competing interests exist.


Fig 1
Fig 1. Descriptive statistics of participants.
A) Distributions of age groups for each gender. B) Density distributions of EA for each gender. Dashed lines show median values for each gender.
Fig 2
Fig 2. Occurrence of restorative experiences.
The figure overlays the maps for nature presence, ecosystem health, and all the restorative experiences (n = 544) analysed within the boundaries of the Stockholm municipality.
Fig 3
Fig 3. Interactions between environmental attitudes and nature presence.
Probabilities that restorative experiences characterised by being relaxed and being mindful in (green lines) or outside (red lines) areas with presence of nature, in relation to respondent’s EA. Shaded areas show 95% confidence intervals of estimations. Points show actual experiences and are jittered to avoid overplotting.
Fig 4
Fig 4. Interactions between environmental attitudes and ecosystem health.
Predicted probabilities that restorative experiences are characterised by feeling safe, being immersed in the place, fascinated, or oneself, in relation to respondent’s HNC and ecosystem health at the place of the experience. Colours correspond to the probability that experiences feature the attribute and contour lines are spaced at 5 percentage points between them. Points show actual experiences and are jittered to avoid overplotting.

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Grant support

We thank the Formas supported project ZEUS (ref no.: 2016- 01193) granted to S.B. for supporting this work. The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.