Nature, smells, and human wellbeing


The link between nature and human wellbeing is well established. However, few studies go beyond considering the visual and auditory underpinnings of this relationship, even though engaging with nature is a multisensory experience. While research linking smell to wellbeing exists, it focuses predominantly on smells as a source of nuisance/offence. Smells clearly have a prominent influence, but a significant knowledge gap remains in the nexus of nature, smell, and wellbeing. Here, we examine how smells experienced in woodlands contribute to wellbeing across four seasons. We show that smells are associated with multiple wellbeing domains, both positively and negatively. They are linked to memories, and specific ecological characteristics and processes over space/time. By making the link between the spatiotemporal variability in biodiversity and wellbeing explicit, we unearth a new line of enquiry. Overall, the multisensory experience must be considered by researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and planners looking to improve wellbeing through nature.

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