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Constituents of Well-being

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Community and Social Cohesion

Community and social cohesion refers to the relationships and operational links between groups, cultures and communities. It is related to feelings such as having a sense of community, belonging to a larger group, altruism, friendship and mutual respect. The avoidance of tensions and conflicts over a declining resource base, opportunities to observe and learn from nature, the ability to express cultural and spiritual values and the ability to participate in nature based activities is important to community and social cohesion.

 

Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Well-being Category

Good Social Relations

 

How do ecosystem services contribute to this constituent of well-being?

 

Mountains provide a scenic backdrop for like minded individuals to share afternoon tea during a field day.

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Social interaction is an important component of wellbeing as it is through personal interaction that individuals develop trust and supportive networks. Personal social interactions include those between close friends and family, and more casual social interactions between acquaintances, neighbours, or strangers. Social interactions also occur at the group or community level, between multiple people identifying with a particular group interacting with others from a different group. 

Casual social interaction is also important to wellbeing, through the formation of wider social networks and because greater face to face contact leads to greater levels of trust. Social networks and trust are both important components of social capital, which has been found to be strongly related to wellbeing and health. More broadly, social interactions between groups or communities play a role in wellbeing by reducing conflict and providing supportive structures and networks.

Outdoor recreation provides opportunities for shared experiences for groups of friends and communities. These shared experiences reinforce social bonds and support social cohesion at the community level. At national and regional scales, ecosystems are major determinants of human culture. At a finer scale, distinct sub-cultures evolve around particular outdoor recreation activities (e.g. hunting, horse riding, surfing, trail bike riding, bushwalking and bird watching). The outdoor recreation opportunities available to a specific community help to shape the culture of that community.

The benefit to wellbeing is generated when the ecosystem contributes to the provision of a place that facilitates positive social interactions. Interactions between groups or communities (rather than individuals) can also be influenced by surrounding ecosystems. Perhaps the most obvious example of this is negative social interaction or conflict over limited resources e.g. water. However, positive group interactions can also be facilitated through particular ecosystems; for example, the Aboriginal people of SEQ traditionally gather to celebrate the Bunya festival, dependent on the production of nuts by the Bunya Pine trees.

 

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Table 1:The relative magnitude (to other ecosystem services) each ecosystem service contributes to Community and Social Cohesion.

Ecosystem Service Category Ecosystem Service 0
1
2
3
4
5
Provisioning Services
Food products            
Water for Consumption            
Building and Fibre Resources            
Fuel Resources            
Genetic Resources for Cultivated Products            
Biochemical, medicinal and pharmaceutical resources            
Ornamental Resources            
Transport Infrastructure            
Regulating Services
Air Quality            
Habitable Climate            
Water Quality            
Arable Land            
Buffering Against Extremes            
Pollination            
Reduce Pests and Diseases            
Productive Soils            
Noise Abatement            
Cultural Services
Iconic Species            
Cultural Diversity            
Spiritual and Religious Values            
Knowledge Systems            
Inspiration            
Aesthetic Values            
Effect on Social Interactions            
Sense of Place            
Iconic Landscapes            
Recreational Opportunities            
Therapeutic Landscapes