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Jul 21, 2014

Urban Biodiversity, City-Dwellers and Conservation: How Does an Outdoor Activity Day Affect the Human-Nature Relationship?

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0038642

The study  explored the consequences of taking part in a short semi-participative activity day on urban conservation.


A few takeaways,

a) the proportion of people spending their holidays in the open air or in nature was significantly higher among the participants [ People who came to the parks to attend these activities] than among general visitors

b) Qualitative interviews also suggested that the ordinary local urban setting is the actual reference for people’s perceptions of nature but that these perceptions are sometimes negative. Non-urban nature and urban nature were strongly opposed, the first being considered as “real” nature, the second as a poor substitute:

c) Results demonstrated that local environmental activities could be attractive to urban dwellers and especially to parents of young children.

d) Results showed that participating in biodiversity activities could increase people’s knowledge, awareness and interest in urban biodiversity in the short term. However, this increase did not encourage individuals to further participate in biodiversity-dedicated activities.

e) Most of the participants were women (mothers or grandmothers) who visited the gardens with/for their children (77% of adult participants) and lived nearby. Most participants were children-minded and therefore had competing interests due to constraints related to child rearing. This could explain the lack of participation in the further activities

f) qualitative results showed that people’s motivations for attending the activity day were less related to an existing interest in nature than with the proximity of the event and their own curiosity (raised by local advertising). We therefore suspect that in their answers to those two questions, the participants might have been influenced by the topic of the day and accordingly adapted their answers, especially because those questions were open-ended. The results of the qualitative interviews provided additional support to this hypothesis, as all interviewees mentioned a lack of knowledge of local urban biodiversity. These people, who are characterised by limited environmental concern, a lack of knowledge and mostly children-rearing interests, may also have limited experience with nature. Thus, they constitute a valuable group for conservation education programs

g) qualitative results in the longer term showed that although people gained knowledge and curiosity for their local biodiversity, they did not actually seem to engage in further biodiversity-dedicated activities. This result could highlight a gap between intentions in the short term and interest in longer term, but it could also be explained by the nature of the participants, who may have time constraints related to child-rearing.

h)  In cities, Evans et al. (2005) demonstrated that knowledge of urban biodiversity can be related to developing awareness and concern for urban nature. This awareness could be the first step in subsequent decision-making regarding conservation activities

i)  implementing activity days on a regular basis and in accordance with individuals’ everyday routines involving children’s recreation for instance could encourage people to prioritise their choices and to introduce biodiversity care in their daily lives. A single activity day was already sufficient to produce changes in individual knowledge and awareness of urban biodiversity for some people.

j)  three important features that can improve the efficiency of nature-related activities aiming at increasing individual awareness. First, being local appears to be a key factor for involving people. Second, the activities should aim to give local residents a central role through activities combining elements such as science, personal observations, games, and emotions. Finally, we suggest that to increase the efficiency of conservation education, it is important to develop long-lasting programs that integrate observations and interaction with nature as closely as possible into people’s daily lives.

Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone. 
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Not that I want to be a god or a hero. Just to change into a tree, grow for ages, not hurt anyone. 

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HasiruUsiru talk series - Re-imagining Bangalore: Transcending the “Tragedy of Commons” by Sudhira at Alternative Law Forum yesterday.  It was a very interesting talk with a lively discussion.
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