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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We Acknowledge
Nature Play WA acknowledges the Whadjuk people of the Noongar Nation, as the custodians of the land where our team lives and works. We also acknowledge the traditional custodians throughout Western Australia and recognise the continuing connection of Indigenous people to their land, waters, sky, culture and community. We pay our respect to all Indigenous people of this land; ancestors, elders and young ones.