Exploring meaningful nature experience, connectedness with nature and the revitalization of transformative education for sustainability
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This study brings together four core themes: connectedness with nature (CWN), invasive alien species (IAS), and education for sustainability (EfS); each of which are explored around - and in relationship to - the core concept of meaningful nature experience (MNE). Using qualitative and quantitative (mixed) methods, the study found that MNE is commonly associated CWN and can be a catalyst, motivation and predictor for environmentally responsible behaviour. MNEs were also considered highly influential in shaping respondents life outlook. Respondents who have had a MNE exhibit a higher CWN; a positive correlation exists between frequency of MNE (fMNE) and CWN. The presence of IAS in a landscape is likely to adversely affect MNE for stated reasons of ecological impacts, diminished 'naturalness' , destructiveness and reduced diversity. Those viewing IAS as potentially enhancing their MNEs cite reasons of beauty, novelty and enjoyment. Respondents CWN does not appear to affect perceptions of IAS; however, elevated CWN may invoke empathy, a sense of relatedness and appreciation of their intrinsic value as 'life'. IAS may also feature in MNEs and, through experiential and metaphorical insight, can deliver newfound understandings of social and ecological connections as they relate to IAS. Overall research outcomes support an educational revitalization that incorporates appreciations of MNE, CWN and their potentials to cultivate an ecological consciousness.