Discovering how the public interact with, respond to, and talk about British woodlands.

Published online
26 Sep 2021
Published by
British Ecological Society
Content type

Austen, G. E. & Dallimer Martin & Irvine, K. N. & Maund, P. R. & Fish, R. D. & Davies, Z. G.

Publication language


The aim of this study is to find out if there were particular ways the public think and speak about biodiversity. This might be in response to how a species behaves or what it symbolises, the colours or shapes people see around them in a habitat, or because of associated childhood memories. 'Q methodology' was used to get people to rank and discuss the items given to them, such as images of species found in British woodlands, including: vertebrates (e.g. birds, mammals, reptiles), invertebrates (e.g. worms, spiders, insects), trees, and plants and fungi found underneath the tree canopy. Not only did people talk about what they saw in the images (e.g. colours, shapes), they also told the things they knew about the images (e.g. the roles species play in the environment, behaviours, smells). Sometimes the discussions were positive, other times they were negative. Even though woodlands were used as a study system, people talked about their perspectives and everyday experiences from other habitats, such as their gardens at home. Cultural influences and memories linked to particular people and places were also featured prominently. Very few of the perspectives communicated by the public align with how researchers measure and describe biodiversity.

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