An Analysis of Urban Ecological Knowledge and Behaviour in Wellington, New Zealand
The majority of the worlds' population now live in urban areas, with urban areas growing at a faster rate than other land use types. Most urban residents are concentrated in neighbourhoods of low biodiversity, and there are concerns about urban residents' disconnection from nature. A lack of ecological knowledge and pro-environmental behaviour has conservation implications. I surveyed Wellington households (n=453) and investigated possible predictors of residents' ecological knowledge about birdlife, bird feeding, and tree planting connected to birdlife. Three measures of knowledge were tested, species freelisting, neighbourhood bird knowledge, and photo identification. Key predictors of higher levels of ecological knowledge were increased frequencies of visiting local and regional parks, higher levels of garden space, and higher educational qualifications. However, all models had low predictive power. Species richness and perceived access to greenspaces were not significant predictors of ecological knowledge. Residents had a lower knowledge of native birdlife compared with exotic species across all measures. Forty-two percent of respondents fed birds, 10% targeting native species, and 36% planted trees for birdlife. Knowledge of neighbourhood birds and garden size were key predictors for each. This study shows the importance of urban greenspaces for ecological knowledge and behaviour, and efforts should be made to encourage visits to greenspaces.