Place Attachment

Ensure that the wellbeing derived from place attachments among all residents of Puget Sound is recognized, understood, and respected.
Ecosystem decline and human-driven pressures can negatively impact place attachment, which can be defined as the extent to which people identify with and feel positively attached to a specific place. For example, research has shown that climate change effects can negatively impact residents’ place attachment, and consequently, their mental health. Research has also shown that place attachment can be fostered and enhanced, including through ecosystem recovery, place-based activities (for example, shellfish harvesting), and the improvement of functional ecosystems.

This strategy aims to address potential loss and negative impacts associated with a lack of recognition, understanding, and respect for diverse communities’ place attachments. Lacking these can cause harm, conflict, and opposition to place-based activities (such as restoration efforts, planning efforts or even place-based policies). This is because when we do not act on an understanding of place attachment, there can be inequitable impacts that include ecosystem decline, sea and landscape change, climate change, regional growth, and development.

Opportunities to address place attachment include better identifying and prioritizing residents’ place attachments, including residents currently not fully represented in the Human Wellbeing Vital Sign Survey findings and other studies. Opportunities also include ensuring place attachment is integrated into recovery, including those efforts linked to education, stewardship, recreation, and community outreach and engagement. By intentionally integrating place attachment, whether, through place-based content, activities, or assessment tools, the greater Puget Sound community can help ensure place attachment is emphasized and enhanced.
  • Enhance sense of place

Ensure place attachments among all residents of Puget Sound are recognized, understood, and respected (ID #157).

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Ensure diverse geographic sites are protected or restored for place attachment purposes, when or if culturally appropriate;
  • Increase knowledge in the Puget Sound recovery community around residents’ senses of place and the role that place attachment may have or could play in recovery, including the connection to environmental stewardship (for example, use data and analysis from the Puget Sound Human Wellbeing Survey);
  • Increase access to and knowledge of publicly owned Puget Sound shorelines and the marine ecosystem;
  • Engage social scientists, in partnership with tribal nations, local governments, and local nongovernmental organizations, to work with Puget Sound communities to better understand social relationships, connectedness, and senses of belonging in Puget Sound;
  • Enable tribal nations and other place-based communities to develop strategies that best reflect their long-term place attachment;
  • Continue human wellbeing Vital Sign survey implementation and integration of results into planning, management, and communications;
  • Implement community-tailored place attachment surveys and other studies in order to more fully capture a more accurate understanding of diverse residents’ place attachments;
  • Integrate place attachment as a key goal or outcome for planning and restoration activities;
  • Integrate place attachment as a key goal or outcome in education, outreach, communications, and engagement efforts;
  • Integrate place attachment as a key goal or outcome for both protection and restoration activities;
  • Integrate place attachment as an assessment measure for protection and restoration activities, stewardship, recreation, education, outreach, and engagement efforts;
  • Include place attachment as a potential factor in ecosystem recovery conflict;
  • Support and increase place attachment research opportunities in the region, including those focused on vulnerable populations and underserved communities;
  • Encourage and support the integration and application of place attachment tools, frameworks, methods (for example, community science), or resources in regional recovery efforts.

Increase access to and visibility of mental health connections to a healthy natural environment (ID #158).

Key opportunities for 2022-2026 include:

  • Manage and preserve natural areas for stress reduction, motivation, and long-term place attachments;
  • Collaborate with public health and land and shoreline use organizations to determine best practices (for example, Healthy Parks, Healthy People);
  • Increase park and open space access, especially for marine shorelines, for all people and communities.
Implementation Considerations

No related implementation considerations at this time. 

Ongoing Programs

Ongoing programs provide regulatory oversight, technical support, implementation resources, funding, or guidance and serve as the critical foundation for Puget Sound recovery. The following is a list of example state and federal ongoing programs that help to implement this strategy. Many more local, tribal nations, and nongovernmental programs exist that support this strategy.

What We're Measuring

We achieve our recovery goal of vibrant quality of life by enhancing opportunities for stress reduction and motivation from natural environments for diverse human communities; acknowledging, respecting, and recognizing that attachments among all residents to Puget Sound’s environments (including natural, biocultural, and anthropogenic places) are opportunities to achieve the goals of the Action Agenda. The indicator of success is improving the rating of the Sense of Place Index, the Psychological Wellbeing Index, and the overall life satisfaction of Puget Sound residents across demographics and diverse communities.

Sense of Place Index

The Sense of Place Index measures the percent of residents who express a positive connection, a strong sense of stewardship, and a sense of pride about being from Puget Sound. This indicator will inform us about peoples’ emotional connection to Puget Sound.

Sense of Place Index

Index of Sense of Place on a seven-point scale based on how respondents agree or disagree with statements about their sense of place in Puget Sound (where 1 is strongly disagree and 7 is strongly agree).

Current Legislative Actions