Wolves, wild boars and other wildlife: Cultural ecosystem services and disservices for people’s recreation and well-being

The project is led by Maria Johansson at the Department of Architecture and the Built Environment at Lund University. Additional collaborators are Anders Flykt (Mid-Sweden University) and Jens Frank (Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences). It is funded by the Swedish Research Council for Environment, Agricultural Sciences and Spatial Planning for the period 2017-2019.

Wildlife populations are increasing in Sweden. The social consequences are disputable and the effect on the perceived recreational qualities of natural settings is unknown. Time spent outdoors for recreation supports psychological restoration from daily demands in all age groups. It thus has implications for human quality of life, well-being and health. Yet, effects of wildlife on restoration have been neglected. This project asks two overarching questions: What is the effect of changing wildlife densities on the perceived possibilities for residing and recreating in rural areas? What are the associated psychological costs and benefits of changing wildlife densities? Integrating psychological theory on human-environment interaction, emotional appraisal, and restorative experience, the project intends to address these questions in three studies: an explorative study based on focus groups discussions; a web-based scenario study, and: a postal survey. All three studies involve people living in rural and urban areas with relatively high or low densities of two more controversial species - wolves (Canis lupus) and wild boars (Sus scrofa) - and two less controversial species - roe deer (Capreolus capreolus), and black grouse (Tetrao tetrix). The project aims to advances knowledge on cultural ecosystem services/disservices defined as psychological costs and benefits of wildlife, and it has relevance for public health, the management of wildlife, and capacity building for resolving conflicts over controversial species.  

Publications are in preparation.