Jax et al., “Caring for nature matters”

Jax, K., M. Calestani, K.M.A. Chan, et al. (2018). “Caring for nature matters: a relational approach for understanding nature’s contributions to human well-being.” Current Opinion in Environmental Sustainability 35: 22-29. Doi: 10.1016/j.cosust.2018.10.009

Abstract: Ecosystem services frameworks effectively assume that nature’s contributions to human well-being derive from people receiving benefits from nature. At the same time, efforts (money, time, or energy) for conservation, restoration or stewardship are often considered costs to be minimized. But what if caring for nature is itself an essential component of human well-being? Taking up and developing the concept of relational values, we explore the idea that well-being cannot be reduced to the reception of benefits, and that instead much derives from positive agency including caring for nature. In this paper, we ask specifically, first, how can ‘care’ be conceptualized with respect to nature, second, how does caring for nature matter both to protecting nature and to people’s well-being, and third, what are the implications for research and practice? We describe the theoretical background, drawing especially from (eco)feminist philosophy, and explore its (mostly) implicit uses in the conservation literature. Based on this analysis we propose a preliminary framework of caring for nature and discuss its potential to enrich the spectrum of moral relations to/with nature. We explore both its consequences for environmental research and for the practice of conservation.