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Garrido-Cumbrera M.;Foley R.;Braçe O.;Correa-Fernández J.;López-Lara E.;Guzman V.;González Marín A.;Hewlett D.
Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
Perceptions of Change in the Natural Environment produced by the First Wave of the COVID-19 Pandemic across Three European countries. Results from the GreenCOVID study
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COVID-19 pandemic Europe Natural environment Perception Soundscape
Although different studies have evaluated the positive impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown measures on reducing noise pollution and traffic levels and improving air quality, how populations have perceived such changes in the natural environment has not been adequately evaluated. The present study provides a more in-depth exploration of human population perception of enhanced natural exposure (to animal life and nature sounds) and reduced harmful exposure (by improved air quality and reduced traffic volume) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. The data is drawn from 3,109 unselected adults who participated in the GreenCOVID survey from April to July 2020 in England, Ireland, and Spain. The findings suggest that the positive impacts to the natural environment as a result of the lockdown have been better received by the population in Spain and Ireland, in comparison to England. Participants who resided in urban areas had better perceived improvements in nature sounds, air quality, and traffic volume compared to those in rural areas. Older populations and those with lower smoking and alcohol consumption were found to perceive this improvement the most. Furthermore, the greater perception of improvements in environmental elements was also associated with better self-perceived health and improved wellbeing. In the binary logistic regression, living in Ireland or Spain, urban areas, female gender, older age, and good overall wellbeing were associated with a greater perception of improvements in the natural environment, while the factors most associated with a greater perception of reduced harmful exposure were living in Spain, had a good self-perceived health status and older age.
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