Nowhere to hide: Awareness and perceptions of environmental change, and their influence on relationships with place
Computing, Health and Science
Natural Sciences, Centre for Ecosystem Management
This study explores people’s sense of place in the context of the changing nature of their biophysical surroundings. Participants lived and worked within the south coast region of Western Australia. An in-depth qualitative study design was adopted and thematic content analysis employed to identify emergent themes. The findings of this study support the proposition that places are more than mere backdrops to experience, as participants described complex and intimate relationships with their environments. Places were instilled with highly personal meanings and were vehicles for learning and personal growth, they represented family continuity and provided places of spiritual significance and emotional regulation. The complexity and breadth of community attitudes towards the environment was reflected upon by participants, as was the influence of environmental values in maintaining social relationships. Environmental changes, manifesting as degradation to biophysical components, emerged as a salient influence on the way participants structured their relationship with their surroundings. Managers of natural resources need to acknowledge people’s awareness and perception of change as mediating variables when examining the effects of their decisions on local environmental quality.