From environmental connectedness to sustainable futures: Topophilia and human affiliation with nature

Thomas Beery, K. Ingemar Jönsson, Johan Elmberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

43 Scopus citations


Human affiliation with nonhuman nature is an important dimension of environmental concern and support for pro-environmental attitudes. A significant theory of human connectedness with nature, the Biophilia Hypothesis, suggests that there exists a genetically based inclination for human affiliation with the biological world. Both support and challenge to the Biophilia Hypothesis are abundant in the literature of environmental psychology. One response that both challenges and builds upon the Biophilia Hypothesis is the Topophilia Hypothesis. The Topophilia Hypothesis has extended the ideas of biophilia to incorporate a broader conception of nonhuman nature and a co-evolutionary theory of genetic response and cultural learning. While the Topophilia Hypothesis is a new idea, it is built upon long-standing scholarship from humanistic geography and theories in human evolution. The Topophilia Hypothesis expands previous theory and provides a multidisciplinary consideration of how biological selection and cultural learning may have interacted during human evolution to promote adaptive mechanisms for human affiliation with nonhuman nature via specific place attachment. Support for this possible co-evolutionary foundation for place-based human affiliation with nonhuman nature is explored from multiple vantage points. We raise the question of whether this affiliation may have implications for multifunctional landscape management. Ultimately, we propose that nurturing potential topophilic tendencies may be a useful method to promote sustainable efforts at the local level with implications for the global.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8837-8854
Number of pages18
JournalSustainability (Switzerland)
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 by the author; licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • Affiliation
  • Biophilia
  • Human evolution
  • Multifunctional landscape management
  • Place
  • Sustainability
  • Topophilia


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