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‘Living in Harmony with Nature’ is a 2050 vision put forth by the Convention on Biological Diversity CBD which takes into consideration culture and locality of perceptions of nature and aspirations for its use. Considering that 54% of the world population lives in cities, where nature has been decimated, the role of rural communities, living within or in proximity of natural and semi natural areas, will effectively influence the fate of the ‘remaining’ nature while they engage in local development. Reconciling between growth and development on the one hand, and nature conservation on the other, necessitates an understanding of how rural communities, especially the youth, imprint their own ideas on landscapes and develop ownership over natural spaces. In order to extend the understanding of how harmony with nature is perceived in different parts of the world, this paper presents the findings of primary research involving a group of young people who live in rural areas in Lebanon, a country in the Arab Middle East. Participatory research based on photovoice methodology was conducted with 77 young people aged 7–16 and residing in five rural villages located in different parts of Lebanon. Photographs taken by participants indicated that for many, nature was not perceived literally i.e. woodlands, forests, plants, animals, etc…. Instead, the participants saw nature as part of agriculture and local culture. Nature was also seen as symbolic expression of the participants’ inner state of mind. Narratives written to explain the photographs shed light on the perception of harmony with nature which focused on positive family experiences and relayed personal emotions, abstract, and holistic yet functional view of nature. Another recurring theme that emerged from photographs and narratives was the role of family members, in particular grandparents, as having a strong influence on the positive perceptions of nature.



Author: Miriam Mattouk, Salma N. Talhouk

Source: http://plos.srce.hr/



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