‘Societal Relationships with Nature’: A framework for understanding nature-related conflicts and multiple values

Uta Berghöfer, Julian Rode, Kurt Jax, Johannes Förster, Augustin Berghöfer, Heidi Wittmer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


In this paper, we operationalize the concept of Societal Relationships with Nature (SRN) as a framework for understanding nature-related conflicts and multiple values. Based on three dimensions knowledgescape, interactions and identity, we propose a set of questions for the empirical analysis of conflict situations. We use two case studies—designation of a biosphere reserve in southern Chile and the return of the wolf in Germany—to illustrate how the SRN framework can reveal and structure the complexity of human–nature relationships. From the conceptual advances and the academic debate on multiple values of nature, we derive four requirements for approaches to analyse nature-related conflicts and how different stakeholders attribute importance to nature. These should (a) cover the relevant aspects and reveal the critical issues underlying a conflict, (b) enable an understanding of differences and commonalities in people’s perspectives and positions, (c) be comprehensive enough to uncover important issues in complex situations without losing empirical practicability and (d) take power relations into account. We discuss whether and how the SRN framework meets these requirements. We present the SRN framework in particular to the academic community working at the interface with policy and practice on multiple values of nature and nature-related conflicts. SRN analysis can also be applied to complement valuation approaches by specifying and explaining differences in people’s attributions of value to nature. Read the free Plain Language Summary for this article on the Journal blog.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)534-548
Number of pages15
JournalPeople and Nature
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Societal Relationships with Nature
  • environmental conflicts
  • human interactions with nature
  • identity and nature
  • multiple values
  • nature conservation


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