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The “desire to have it all”: multiple priorities for urban gardens reduces space for native nature

Elizabeth Elliot Noe, University of Waikato
Bruce D. Clarkson, Environmental Research Institute, University of Waikato
Ottilie Stolte, University of Waikato

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5751/ES-12515-260243

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Abstract

The majority of the world’s population now lives in cities, where reduced levels of native biodiversity, coupled with fewer opportunities for people to experience nature, are expected to result in an urban public increasingly disconnected from the natural environment. Residential gardens have great potential to both support native species and allow people daily contact with nature. Embracing the epistemological assumption that urban residents’ interactions with nature in their gardens and parks may be complex, unpredictable, contradictory, and context-dependent, we used an interpretative phenomenological analysis approach to explore the human relationship with urban nature in a New Zealand city. We conducted 21 semi-structured “go-along” interviews to facilitate a deeper understanding of participants’ personal experiences of nature in parks and gardens. Interviews revealed a tension between stated values and concrete actions affecting urban biodiversity in private gardens. This value-action gap stemmed from the multiple purposes and values that people hold for their gardens, which do not necessarily align with conservation of native nature. By recognizing that urban residents hold multiple values and want their gardens to fulfill multiple purposes, local authorities aiming to promote nature conservation in cities can design wildlife gardening programs that meet these multiple needs and reconcile conflicting priorities.

Key words

connection to nature; extinction of experience; gardens; interpretative phenomenological analysis; urban biodiversity; urban greenspace; value-action gap; wildlife gardening

Copyright © 2021 by the author(s). Published here under license by The Resilience Alliance. This article is under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License. You may share and adapt the work for noncommercial purposes provided the original author and source are credited, you indicate whether any changes were made, and you include a link to the license.

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Ecology and Society. ISSN: 1708-3087