COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION IN BIODIVERSITY INTRODUCTION Community participation in biodiversity monitoring

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  • COMMUNITY PARTICIPATION IN BIODIVERSITY MONITORING

    Sarah Jennifer Hobbs

    Thesis submitted for the Degree of

    Doctor of Philosophy

    Environment Department

    University of York

    January 2012

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    ABSTRACT

    The involvement of communities with wildlife is increasing on a global scale.

    Participatory approaches differ across the world, from natural resource

    management, environmental quality monitoring, to species and habitat data

    gathered through citizen science programmes. The personal and community

    benefits of engaging with nature are acknowledged through ongoing research,

    particularly in terms of health and wellbeing, yet simultaneously people are

    becoming increasingly distanced from nature due to factors such as urbanisation. In

    order to maximise the benefits associated with participatory initiatives, it is important

    to engage with a cross section of societal groups, providing opportunities for all, at

    the same time as collecting wildlife data from all habitats.

    In this study, I confirm that participation in citizen science can achieve social and

    potentially community-level benefits on national, local and individual scales.

    Through semi-structured qualitative interviews, I found that conservation

    organisations strive to engage with a cross section of societal groups. However,

    postcode analysis of current wildlife recording scheme participants confirmed that

    socioeconomically deprived communities are under-represented in these activities. I

    designed a simple garden wildlife study in a socioeconomically deprived community

    to investigate the reasons behind this, and found that although a proportion of

    residents were motivated to participate, the majority had not done so in the past,

    which was largely attributed to a lack of awareness of opportunities. Despite this,

    many of these participants shared the same motivations for participation as those

    currently engaged. Working with a small group of community volunteers, I used

    semi-structured interviews to reveal that participation in an ecological study can

    bring about positive personal benefits with the potential to lead on to wider positive

    outcomes in the future. A significant factor in these transformative effects appeared

    to be the role of activity practitioners in supporting future participation. Alongside

    this investigation, a study of habitat use by hedgehogs in an urban setting, current

    garden management, and resources in the wider area appeared to have a positive

    effect upon hedgehogs.

    Throughout all participants in this study, motivations for involvement were centred

    on contributing to a local study, an interest in the focal wildlife species/taxa, helping

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    conservation and learning. Gardening for wildlife was a popular activity, with many

    participants reporting both an active encouragement of wildlife into the garden, and

    a desire to learn more about this topic.

    This thesis demonstrates how traditional environmental activities are not

    successfully engaging with people from socioeconomically deprived communities.

    There are likely to be many factors associated with this, but from the findings of this

    research, some recommendations can be made to improve future participatory

    approaches as well as building upon the positive effects of working with community

    volunteers.

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    TABLE OF CONTENTS

    ABSTRACT 2

    TABLE OF CONTENTS 2

    LIST OF TABLES 7

    LIST OF FIGURES 8

    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS 9

    AUTHOR’S DECLARATION 11

    CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION 12

    References 24

    CHAPTER 2: Community participation in biodiversity recording: the social

    and ecological implications of an unrepresentative participant base 34

    Preface 34

    Abstract 36

    Introduction 37

    Methods 41

    Results 45

    Discussion 60

    References 65

    CHAPTER 3: Motivations and barriers to participation in biodiversity

    recording within a socioeconomically deprived urban community 71

    Preface 71

    Abstract 73

    Introduction 73

    Methods 78

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    Results 83

    Discussion 87

    References 93

    CHAPTER 4: Achieving positive social outcomes through participatory urban

    wildlife conservation projects 102

    Preface 102

    Abstract 104

    Introduction 104

    Methods 109

    Results 113

    Discussion 122

    References 127

    CHAPTER 5: The effects of householder behaviour on urban hedgehog

    habitat use 131

    Preface 131

    Abstract 133

    Introduction 134

    Methods 137

    Results 139

    Discussion 142

    References 146

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    CHAPTER 6: DISCUSSION 151

    Summary of thesis aims and results 151

    Participation in environmental activities 154

    Gardening for wildlife 156

    Flagship species 158

    Transformative effects and maintaining participation 159

    UK participatory policy and community engagement 160

    Limitations of the study 161

    Conclusions 162

    References 164

    APPENDICES A-1

    APPENDIX 1: Current recording scheme participant questionnaire A-2

    APPENDIX 2: Environment Pollution Publication A-6

    APPENDIX 3: Garden wildlife recording scheme postcard design A-15

    APPENDIX 4: Hull residents follow-up questionnaire A-18

    APPENDIX 5: Fact sheets posted to questionnaire respondents A-24

    APPENDIX 6: The Engagement Scale A-29

    APPENDIX 7: Environmental activities advertisements A-31

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    LIST OF TABLES

    CHAPTER 1

    Table 1. Summary of community engagement initiative types. 13

    CHAPTER 2

    Table 2. Expertise and commitment levels used in the internet-based review of UK-

    based nature recording schemes. 42

    Table 3. Questions included in the current scheme participant questionnaire. 44

    Table 4. UK-based recording schemes found during the internet search. 46

    Table 5. Summary of recording schemes that interviews were based upon. 48

    Table 6. Proportions of questionnaire responses for both recording schemes. 55

    Table 7. Resampled statistics for both LGPS and GBW schemes based on IMD

    scores obtained from participant postcodes. 59

    CHAPTER 3

    Table 8. Themes and motivations listed in ranking exercise in the postal

    questionnaire. 82

    Table 9. Ranking of motivations for taking part in the study. 85

    CHAPTER 4

    Table 10. Common approaches of conservation organisations and projects with the

    aim of increasing participants’ engagement with nature. 107

    Table 11. Summary of volunteer responses to advertisements. 120

    CHAPTER 5

    Table 12. Hedgehog ranging distances and home range sizes. 139

    Table 13. Summary of compositional analysis result for active data fixes. 140

    Table 14. Summary of door-to-door questionnaire results. 141

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    LIST OF FIGURES

    CHAPTER 2

    Figure 1. Proportions of membership of other environmental organisations/ groups/

    societies for both recording schemes. 59

    Figure 2. Mean IMD scores for LGPS and BTO recording schemes in comparison

    with local and national resampled data. 60

    CHAPTER 4

    Figure 3. Relationship between previous participation in recording activities and

    request for further information. 87

    Figure 4. Changes in responses of participants illustrating changes in their

    engagement with nature over time. 117

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    ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

    Thank you to the Big Lottery for funding this PhD as part of the Open Air

    Laboratories (OPAL) project. I have been proud to be part of the wider OPAL team,

    and thank regional team colleagues for their input and support - Sarah, Mike, Piran,

    Caz, Steve and Erik.

    I would like to thank my supervisor, Piran White for his ongoing patience and

    support throughout my PhD, for being available, for all his advice, and in particular

    his valuable comments on my thesis. Thanks too to my Thesis Advisory Committee,

    Mike Ashmore and Carolyn Snell for their support with my thesis.

    The representatives of organisations and groups running wildlife recording schemes

    were extremely helpful in giving up their time to contribute to the interviews. I would

    therefore like to thank Jeremy Biggs, Richard Fox, Mike Toms, Marina Pacheco,

    Nayna Tarver, Gemma Butlin, Mike Russell, Kerry Fieldhouse, David Orchard and

    Don Pritchett, and thanks also to their organisations for allowing their time and input

    into this research. Thank you also to the participants of the BTO Garden BirdWatch

    and Leeds Garden Pond Survey who completed and returned their questionnaires,

    many of whom also sent good wishes for the success of the research.

    All of the fieldwork conducted in this PhD would not have been possible without the

    contributions made by volunteers, and I am very apprec