Abstract: Urbanization deeply alters ecosystems, livelihoods, lifestyle, and consequently, human-nature relationships, with significant consequences for health and environmental behaviour. However, the effect of urbanization on different aspects of human-nature relationships is not well understood, especially in the rapidly urbanizing Global South. In my thesis, I explore how urbanization affects human-nature relationships using the lens of ecosystem services, and thus, comparing how urban and rural dwellers perceive ecosystem services. My analysis of 200 interviews conducted in paired urban and rural coastal sites of the Solomon Islands shows that urbanization alters human-nature relationships and decreases the contributions of provisioning, regulating, and cultural ecosystem services to human wellbeing. Using the Social Wellbeing Framework, I show how these changes affect the material, relational, and subjective dimensions of human wellbeing. Urbanization also simplifies relationships with most ecosystems, mainly through the loss provisioning services. I found that the effects of urbanization are not primarily due to changes in preferences, as indicated by lower satisfaction levels in urban areas, but rather to decreased ecosystem service availability and access mechanisms (e.g., rights of use), as well as increased wealth associated with changes in livelihood activities in urban areas. A better understanding of how urbanization affects how people use and benefit from ecosystem services can help ensure environmental management and urban planning contribute to human wellbeing.
Biography: Marie is from Canada where she completed a Bachelor degree in Biology and Environment at McGill University and a Masters in Ecology at Université de Montréal. She has worked with various NGOs on issues of urban sustainability and nature conservation before starting her PhD at the Coral CoE in September 2016. She is advised by Graeme Cumming and Georgina Gurney.