How nature comes across: the human perception of nature
Before reading any further, please picture in your mind your ideal forest and keep a mental note of this image. What does it look like? What colours, shapes and aromas are present and how do you feel there?
Humans not only have totally different ideas of what a forest should be like, their needs and expectations of nature in general, and of the National Park in particular, vary considerably. This all depends on a variety of different social conditions that social scientists call ‘social situations’ or ‘life situations’ because, for instance, whether you work in an office in a city or at home in a rural area will, in all probability, have an influence on your perception of nature. Accordingly, a person from a city often has other expectations of a national park than someone who is constantly surrounded by nature.
The social scientists here in the National Park examine various aspects of this phenomenon and, among other things, focus on the following different areas:
- On the effects of nature-based experiences on cognition and emotion and on the physical and mental health of humans (see: Nature-based experiences, wilderness, health and relaxation),
- On the historic, cultural and social factors in the relationship between humans and the environment and their effects on the perception of nature and the National Park over the course of time (see: Sociocultural monitoring),
- On the perception and evaluation of the National Park (see Acceptance),
- On the evaluation and support of participation processes in the National Park as part of the NLP Plan (more on the NLP will be discovered here).
An important role is played by the socio-scientific observations relating to communication and social interaction as they simultaneously represent the research subject and method of the National Park social scientists. Various social interactions are examined as research topics and the findings are also used in a practice-oriented way to improve internal joint working methods in the National Park. The research itself on social interaction and communication also presents a methodological tool for many of the above mentioned studies (in particular the qualitative ones).
Besides greater interaction of these research areas with practical applications, the financial effects of the National Park on the region will in future also be examined and the economic impulses it could deliver (see: Socioeconomic monitoring).