ABSTRACT

While the general consensus is that nature is good for you, recent conflicts around urban greening projects point to underlying tensions around how we understand and value nature. To address these tensions, this chapter provides an overview of what we currently know about the relationship between nature, health, and well-being, key debates and conflicts in research in these fields, and some new areas of inquiry that are promising for small-scale urban greening. In reviewing the paradigms and worldviews underlying the key influential research programs on nature, health and well-being – in environmental psychology and in social constructionism, political ecology, and the relational turn – this chapter argues that despite some convergence between their methods and the integration of different paradigms, continued differences and lack of clarity on the normative assumptions underlying each approach lead to confusion in the specification of ‘nature’ in health, well-being, and place research. These tensions, while seemingly academic, influence conflicts on the ground in the implementation of small-scale urban greening projects. This chapter provides the theoretical context for the book and sets a foundation from which to interpret and understand the insights and results from specific case studies.