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Relationships Between Perceived Coastal Waterway Condition and Social Aspects of Quality of Life

Melanie E Cox, Coastal Zone CRC and Centre for Marine Studies, University of Queensland
Ron Johnstone, Coastal Zone CRC and Centre for Marine Studies, University of Queensland
Jackie Robinson, Coastal Zone CRC and School of Economics, University of Queensland

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Abstract

Previous research has shown that the presence of natural areas is beneficial to human well-being. However, to date there have been few published studies of the effects that the condition of natural areas have on well-being. We hypothesize that coastal waterways that are perceived to be in better condition are visited more often by local residents, and as a result, residents will develop a stronger sense of place and stronger social relations with other residents, which will in turn lead to a higher quality of life. A survey was conducted to test this hypothesis in two coastal regions in Queensland, Australia. A weak relationship was found between perceived coastal quality and the number of recreational visits. In both study areas, frequency of visits to coastal waterways was significantly related to quality of life through an increased sense of place and social contacts. In the Douglas region, sense of place and social capital were closely related, and social capital was also related to quality of life. In both study areas, residents were most likely to visit waterways that were located in close proximity to their residence, suggesting that management of all waterways is essential for human well-being, and that benefits to humans will result from rehabilitating degraded waterways.

Key words

quality of life; waterway condition; coastal zone management
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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087