What motivates backyard conservation behaviours?

Published online
20 Oct 2021
Published by
British Ecological Society
Content type

Woolley, C. K. & Hartleya, S. & Nelsona, N. J. & Shanahan, D. F.

Publication language
New Zealand


This study explored what different backyard conservation activities appeal to different sorts of people in New Zealand, and what motivates participation. A questionnaire survey that recorded people's interest in engaging in 3 different backyard conservation activities (native biodiversity monitoring, pest mammal monitoring and pest mammal trapping), as well as what motivates engagement in conservation, and other characteristics such as connection to nature and how much time they spend in nature were distributed. On average, people were more interested in participating in backyard conservation if they had a strong connection to nature and if they frequently spent time in nature. This pattern was less strong for pest mammal trapping than it was for the two activities involving monitoring animals, indicating that something in addition to environmental concern might be motivating participation in trapping. It was suggested that this difference might be due to there being a more direct benefit to conservation from trapping (a reduction in pest numbers) than for the monitoring activities, which have more indirect outcomes (contributing information through citizen science). Additionally, trapping likely offers multiple benefits for those who engage in it, benefiting both species conservation and people through the removal of a domestic pest. Findings suggest conservation activities that offer co-benefits to those who perform them may appeal to a broader range of people, including those not strongly connected to nature.

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