García–Rodrigues, J. et al. (including Villasante, S.) (2021). Sustainability Science
The non-material aspects of nature are frequently the most socially valued and demanded nature’s contributions to people (NCP). This is because non-material NCP often lay the foundations of key human well-being dimensions such as identities, experiences, and capabilities. Yet, while research on material NCP such as food and water abound, studies of non-material NCP are relatively scarce. This research gap results in a limited understanding of the relationships between non-material NCP and human well-being, especially in the marine and coastal environment. To understand the relationships between non-material NCP and subjective human well-being, we surveyed 453 users of Litoral Norte—a multiple-use marine protected area in Portugal. Our survey included 16 statement indicators reflecting theoretical constructs of subjective well-being. Using factor analysis, we found that subjective well-being derived from relating to, interacting with, and experiencing marine and coastal sites can be grouped into four interpretable cultural dimensions of well-being. These dimensions are ‘engagement with nature & health’, ‘sense of place’, ‘solitude in nature’, and ‘spirituality’. We also found statistically significant differences in reported levels of the four dimensions of well-being. Reported levels of well-being varied with interviewees’ socio-economic characteristics and environmental behaviour. Our findings offer interesting insights for marine conservation practice and policy that aims to foster both biodiversity and human well-being.