Citizens’ images and values of nature in Europe

A survey amongst 9000 EU citizens reveals the images and values of nature in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. The survey is part of the Nature Outlook project.

For most people nature is almost everywhere

According to the survey, Europeans have a broad conception of nature. For them, anything from primeval forests, birds of prey and swamps, to forest plantations, garden plants and large crop fields is natural. City parks scored the lowest in the ‘naturalness’ ranking, although half of all respondents still considered them natural to some extent. In short, for most people, nature is almost everywhere.

Europeans generally believe nature is worth preserving

Another result from the survey shows that there seems to be no nature conservation ‘fatigue’ among Europeans. Two-thirds of respondents do not think there is too much emphasis on nature conservation. Also, two-thirds state that governments are primarily responsible for the protection and management of nature.

Most people appreciate nature more for its intrinsic value, such as wildness or biodiversity, than for its role in the creation of economic value. This preference for nature’s intrinsic value is strongest among higher educated people, city dwellers and young people.


Hans Farjon (PBL), Arianne de Blaeij, Tineke de Boer, Fransje Langers, Janneke Vader and Arjen Buijs (all Wageningen UR)


Publication title
Citizens’ images and values of nature in Europe
Publication date
13 December 2016
Publication type
Product number