East-Southeast Asia is seeing the fastest rates of urbanization globally. In China during the last 20 years, the proportion of the human population living in urban areas, has risen from 20% to more than one half. A consequence of urbanization is that people have less exposure to “nature”. The loss of an emotional connection with nature is closely associated with not only the decline in people’s willingness to protect nature but also reduced psychological well-being.

Urban areas in Southeast Asia
[Photo: Public Domain]

Urban planning often incorporates public parks, providing improved air quality and opportunities for recreation. For residents of East-Southeast Asia’s megacities interactions with “nature” may be limited to interactions taking place in urban parks. Urban parks can provide refuges for ecologically important biodiversity such as insect pollinators. While residents may be unlikely to notice small insects such as bees, butterflies are more likely to be noticed and to provide positive human-“nature” interactions.

Urban expansion around Shenzhen
[Photo: J-J Wilson]

The goal of our research network is to survey butterflies in rapidly urbanizing megacities across East-Southeast Asia, and conduct questionnaires with local residents to evaluate interactions with butterflies and the impacts on “nature” relatedness and well-being. We also are involved in community engagement activities. Our work will provide scientific evidence supporting i) the presence of biodiversity in urban parks, ii) levels of human-"nature" interactions in urban parks, iii) public interest in conservation of urban biodiversity. This will guide policy-makers facing the challenge of managing urban biodiversity so as to promote beneficial interactions between “nature” and residents.

Getting close to urban butterflies in Asia
[Photo: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/life/2016-10/22/content_27140603.htm]

For the latest updates see the Reports & Updates section of this website. You can also follow our network on ResearchGate.

Please cite our network as:

Jaturas et al. (2020). Butterflies in urban parks in the Bangkok Metropolitan Region, Thailand. Biodiversity Data Journal 8: e56317.