Ono et al., Nature nurtures newcomers

Ono, A.J., D.R. Boyd and K.M.A. Chan (2023). “Acculturation as an ecosystem service? Urban natural space supports evolving relational values and identity in new female migrants.” People and Nature 5(2): 313-325. Doi: 10.1002/pan3.10188

New migrants display unique use patterns and relationships with their host country’s natural spaces. Understanding migrants’ values about and interactions with nature requires identifying the meanings, benefits and capabilities that arise from their socio-ecological interactions. This research seeks to understand how new migrants’ engagement with their host country’s urban nature affects their lives, behaviours and identities post-migration. Using qualitative semi-structured interviews and background surveys, this study characterizes the ways in which 27 recent international female migrants to Metro Vancouver use, perceive and derive value from their relationships with their host country’s nature. Participants were all female migrants of low socio-economic status, whose particular interacting marginalized identities provided a unique, though potentially limited, understanding of migrants’ relationships to their host countries nature. However, they also came from diverse geographic and cultural backgrounds, indicating that common experiences may be indicative of broader trends. Participants expressed a deep value of a generalized conceptualization of ‘Canadian nature’—a relational value that nature is special and to be enjoyed—which informed their use and experiences of Metro Vancouver’s natural environments. They felt that their interactions with these spaces provided therapeutic and acculturative ecosystem services by helping them learn about their host country’s sociocultural landscape and engage with their own evolving identities relative to their new environment. These findings highlight the complexity of migrant–nature relationships in Canada. Understanding these relationships is further complicated by the interacting influences of intersectional identities with gender and class being particularly relevant to this study. This research highlights how nature’s non-material contributions to people can impact an individual’s understandings, meanings and values about places and themselves. A free Plain Language Summary can be found within the Supporting Information of this article.