1st Edition

Positive Psychology and Biodiversity Conservation Health, Wellbeing, and Pro-Environmental Action

    204 Pages
    by Routledge

    This book reveals how pro-environmental actions can boost individuals’ and communities’ psychological, social and emotional wellbeing, as well as resulting in positive environmental changes.

    Pro-environmental actions are often viewed as being motivated by anxiety, shame or anger. However, emerging research indicates that they can also become a source of positive affect, life meaning, engagement and other wellbeing outcomes. This book turns the current research and practice of pro-environmental action on its head. Drawing from the field of positive psychology, a rapidly developing science of wellbeing, the book explores new perspectives on how researchers and practitioners can influence engagement in pro-environmental initiatives. It provides ways in which individuals passionate about the environment can reframe their feelings and thoughts and allow their newly gained perspective to improve their wellbeing, and outlines approaches to support and encourage those less motivated to engage in pro-environmental actions. The book draws on research from the biodiversity project called Let it Bee, but also looks at examples of other pro-environmental research such as water conservation, recycling and reducing the consumption of meat. This book can be used as a guide for changing how stakeholders motivate people to engage in pro-environmental action.

    This book will be essential reading for students and scholars of biodiversity conservation, environmental sustainability, ecosystem services and environmental psychology.

    Part 1: The foundations  

    1. The need for change: An introduction  

    2. Pro-environmental actions and wellbeing  

    3. Natural vs Urban environments vis-à-vis health and wellbeing  

    Part 2: Individuals’ wellbeing, pro-environmental behaviour and biodiversity  

    4. Environment in the context of illbeing and wellbeing  

    5. Individual emotional wellbeing  

    6. Individuals’ psychological wellbeing  

    7. Mindsets as guideposts for wellbeing  

    Part 3: The impact of wellbeing within broader social pro-environmental networks  

    8. Family’s health and wellbeing  

    9. Community health and wellbeing  

    10. The future of pro-environmental actions, health and wellbeing  


    Jolanta Burke (PhD) is a Chartered Psychologist (British Psychological Society) and a Senior Lecturer (US: Associate Professor) at the Centre for Positive Health, RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences, Ireland. Dr Burke specialises in the application of positive psychology. Specifically, she researches mechanisms for enhancing psychological flourishing and new wellbeing interventions, such as pro-environmental, nature-based and lifestyle-medicine-based tools for enhancing psychological flourishing. Her latest research projects include an exploration of the nature-related mechanisms impacting physiological (Heart Rate Variability, electroencephalogram) and psychological wellbeing (funded by the Science Foundation Ireland) and the psychological wellbeing impact of bees on bee-keepers, their families and the community (funded by the Irish Research Council and Community Foundation Ireland). She has authored over ten books, published over 60 peer-reviewed publications and written for such newspapers as the Guardian, Irish Independent, and Irish Times. Her research and publications have been featured in such media as The Economic Times, Channel News Asia, CNN and Fox News. She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today and The Conversation, where over 2 million people have read her articles in the last two years, and she was acknowledged by the Irish Times as one of 30 people who make Ireland a better place. For more information go to www.JolantaBurke.com.

    Darren Clarke (PhD) is an Assistant Professor in climate change at Dublin City Univesity. His research specialises in environmental psychology, climate change policy, governance, adaptation, and social vulnerability. He has also worked with the local government sector in Ireland to support them in developing and implementing key performance indicators to measure their climate action progress over the period 2020-2029. He also helped organise Ireland's Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss – the first of its kind globally. He currently leads a national climate adaptation research project funded by the Environmental Protection Agency examining the political economy of climate adaptation in Ireland. He is a regular contributor to national and local print media in Ireland, including the Irish Times, the Irish Independent and RTE Brainstorm. He also regularly appears as an expert on national television on topics related to sustainability and climate change.

    Jimmy O’Keeffe (PhD) in Assistant Professor of Environmental Systems at Dublin City University. He has over 14 years’ experience working on natural capital and ecosystem service research in Ireland, UK and South Asia collaborating with farmers, developers, regulatory authorities and governments. Jimmy has authored multiple papers on the use of systems modelling and stakeholder engagement, helping to bridge the gap between engineering and social science. He also helped organise Ireland's Children and Young People’s Assembly on Biodiversity Loss – the first of its kind globally. Jimmy’s current research focuses on quantifying the societal benefits, particularly around health and wellbeing provided by urban natural capital. He uses interdisciplinary approaches, including stakeholder engagement and systems modelling, to improve our understanding of the links and feedbacks between humans and the natural environment.

    Sean Corrigan is a Water and Environmental Engineer. He has over 20 years’ experience in the water sector working on projects from catchments to the tap. Through nature based, and community focused solutions the projects that Sean has managed have reduced the need for  capital expenditure. They have also been recognised national and internationally winning numerous awards. Sean is also the sustainability director of a children’s charity that focuses on the child and parents physical and emotional wellbeing as well as focusing on biodiversity, upcycling, and carbon sequestration. The charity will be carbon positive by 2027.

    "This important book offers a comprehensive examination of the link between environmental conservation and wellbeing. It delves into how eco-friendly practices improve both community ties and individual mental health. The authors show that caring for the environment and biodiversity enriches our lives with purpose and happiness, utilising theories and practical examples from positive psychology. It illuminates the links between environment, psychology and wellbeing in an accessible way and will be a valuable resource for academics, students and practitioners."

    Professor Conor Murphy, Department of Geography, Maynooth University, Ireland.

    "An essential read for anyone invested in the intricate dynamics of water systems, this book offers a compelling case for holistic understanding and community-driven action. Through insightful analysis and captivating examples like the Let it Bee project, the authors underscore the urgent need to view rivers and their surroundings through a broader, systems perspective —one that encompasses environmental health and human well-being. Whether you're a student, practitioner, policy maker, or scientist, this interdisciplinary gem will inspire you to join the quest for community-led solutions towards brighter future for the deeply intertwined human-water systems."

    Dr Ana Mijic, Reader in Water Systems Integration and Director of the Centre for Systems Engineering and Innovation, Imperial College London, UK.

    "In a world where we are often siloed by our personal preferences and careers, this book brings together perspectives from the disciplines of positive psychology, engineering, and science. It gives a good insight into how helping to protect and enhance biodiversity, and the environment can have a really positive impact on your personal wellbeing."

    Barry Deane, CEO, National Federations of Group Water Schemes, Ireland.

    "This thought-provoking and timely book delves into the profound connections between positive psychology, wellbeing, and pro-environmental endeavours. By illuminating how our mental health and connection to nature are inextricably bound, the authors offer invaluable insights and practical strategies for fostering the synergies between individual flourishing and collective environmental stewardship. The book is a must-read for anyone seeking to promote personal and planetary thriving in the face of global challenges."

    Dr Andrea Giraldez-Hayes, Chartered Psychology and Staff Wellbeing Manager at Imperial College London, UK.

    "This book is an absolute must-read for anyone seeking inspiration to build a better world for themselves and for our planet. The authors present an optimistic and transformative perspective on pro-environmental efforts through the lens of positive psychology. Enriching the discourse with empirical evidence and firsthand testimonies, they foster a holistic approach to environmental activism that promises enhanced wellbeing for individuals, families, and communities alike."

    Dr Pawel Fortuna, Katolicki Uniwersytet Lubelski, Experimental Psychology Department, Lublin, Poland.