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Perceptions of Naturalness in a City Environment

Krapez, Alexis Jon (2017) Perceptions of Naturalness in a City Environment. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Urban greenspace is vital for cities, for health and well-being benefits to urban dwellers, as well as those spaces providing, potentially, the only link city dwellers have to nature. However, the benefits urban greenspace can provide to people can depend on perceptions of that urban greenspace. Environmental perceptions are highly socially and culturally defined, and therefore subjective. One such important perception, referred to as naturalness, considers how natural people think a landscape is.

To determine perceptions of naturalness in an urban environment, this project assessed two contrasting protected areas in Perth, Western Australia; namely Woodman Point Regional Park on the coast, and Mundy Regional Park in the hills. Using an on-site survey method asking participants to indicate perceptions of naturalness and connection to nature on a scale, 403 questionnaires were returned. The respondents identified Woodman Point Regional Park (Md = 5, n = 162) as less natural than Mundy Regional Park (Md = 6, n = 239), although both were still considered natural. Connection to nature was found to be the same between the two parks (Woodman Point Md = 23, n = 162; Mundy Md = 23, n = 236). Several visitor characteristics were found to have relationships with both perceived naturalness and connection to nature, although these relationships are inconclusive.

The implications of this research suggest that parks in both urban and peri-urban locations are perceived as natural. Similar perceptions of naturalness of parks in contrasting urban locations may be a result of a lack of public awareness on what is considered ecologically natural. Despite this, urban greenspace still provides personal benefit. Outcomes of this project not only demonstrate the importance to people of large natural areas in cities for providing connections to nature that otherwise may be lost, but also raises awareness and knowledge of nature, that may also otherwise be lost to the population.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
United Nations SDGs: Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities
Supervisor(s): Hughes, Michael and Newsome, David
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