Spending time in and connecting with nature has underpinned human existence for thousands of years, yet people are increasingly disconnected. Evidence shows that people who connect with nature are more likely to value and act to protect the natural environment and that connecting with, and spending quality time in, nature is vital for our health and wellbeing.

Measuring the dimensions of nature connection

ARI and BehaviourWorks Australia, Monash University, have developed a tool that uses 12 statements to measure a person’s Connection with Nature, called the CN-12. This tool was developed in Victoria to support the Protecting Victoria Environment: Biodiversity 2037. Because connection with nature is multi-faceted, we measure it across three key dimensions: identity, experience and philosophy.

  • The Identity dimension represents thoughts, emotions, and behaviours about and toward nature. This includes seeing oneself as emotionally connected to nature and as someone who acts to protect nature.
  • The Experience dimension represents enjoyment, wellbeing, and belonging through activities in nature.
  • The Philosophy dimension represents humanity's relationship with nature, including a sense of interconnectedness between humans and nature.

Leaves and feetMan and dog watch sunset

The CN-12 Tool

The CN-12 tool measures each person’s connection with nature connection on a scale of 1- 7: from weak (1), to moderate (5), to strong (7). The total score is calculated by averaging across all 12 statements. Individual dimension scores are calculated by averaging across the statements in that dimension.

Identity dimension questions

1. I think of myself as someone who is very concerned about taking care of nature

2. My relationship to nature is a big part of how I think about myself

3. I feel uneasy if I am away from nature for too long

4. I feel right at home when I am in nature

5. Feeling connected to nature helps me deal with everyday stress

Experience dimension questions

6. I feel a strong emotional connection to nature

7. I enjoy spending time in nature

8. I like to get outdoors whenever I get the chance

9. Being in nature allows me to do the things I like doing most

Philosophy dimension questions

10. Everything in nature is connected (e.g., animals, plants, humans, water, air, land, fire, etc.)

11. Human beings and nature are connected by the same ‘energy’ or ‘life-force’

12. Human wellbeing depends upon living in harmony with nature

Results - Victoria’s Connection with Nature

Our annual statewide survey shows connections across Victorians. In 2021, 66% of Victorians reported a moderate-to-strong connection with nature with CN scores of 5 or above. Encouragingly, 31% of respondents reported an average CN score of 6 or above. In comparison, the 2018 survey found that 62% of respondents reported an average CN score of 5 or above, with 27% scoring 6 or above. This suggests that from 2018-2021, the number of Victorians reporting a moderate-to-strong connection with nature has increased.

The CN-12 tool provides a consistent, reliable, and evidence-based method to track Victoria’s growing connection with nature. It will continue to be a key indicator in measuring the Victorian Governments progress in achieving the Biodiversity 2037 goal for ‘all Victorians connecting with nature’.

For more information on how we use this tool, contact zoe.squires@delwp.vic.gov.au

For more information on people's connections with nature see:

Additional references:

Page last updated: 09/08/22