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Are we on the verge of something new? An analysis of community perceptions and ecological value of local green space

Culverhouse, Elizabeth (2018) Are we on the verge of something new? An analysis of community perceptions and ecological value of local green space. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Urban green spaces are under threat by current urban densification practices, so Australian local councils are looking at innovative ways to utilise current green spaces, such as road verges. However councils often lack resources to properly manage these areas, so many local councils are turning to their residents to help manage these spaces, which is what the City of Vincent’s Adopt a Verge program aims to do. This study uses the City of Vincent’s Adopt a Verge program as a case study to (1) evaluate the quality of the verge plantings in regards to ecological value, (2) establish participant’s motives for adoption and non-adoption of verges, and (3) determine whether there is any relationship between the participant’s motives for adoption and the ecological value of verge plantings.

Residents were classified as “Adopters” (participants in the Adopt a Verge program) and” Non-adopters” (those who did not participate).In-situ vegetation surveys were conducted to assess percent cover, and plant diversity and richness of adopted verges. In-person and online social surveys considered the motivations behind adoption or non-adoption (respectively), beliefs about the program aims, ecological world view using the New Ecological Paradigm, and general demographics.

Of 198 adopted verges surveyed, 85% had non-grass vegetation, and were covered on average by 29% non-grass vegetation. Adopters participated in the program to improve aesthetics of their verge (76%) while Non-adopters were unaware of the program (18%). Both groups were told of the aims of the program and it was found that Adopters had more positive attitudes towards the program aims than Non-adopters, and Adopters were more eco-centric in their ecological world view (t=3499, p<0.05). A third group of people who had planted native vegetation on their verge outside of the program was revealed—the Self-adopters (n=15). Verge vegetation percent cover, diversity and richness were correlated with increased positive attitudes for Adopters.

Adoption of verges by residents, as part of a wider urban greening program, was well received by those residents aware of the program. Most residents had a positive attitude towards the Adopt a Verge program, while the program was also successful in increasing native vegetation cover on verges over time. This study highlights potential motivations for verge adoption, including residents’ aesthetic appreciation for native vegetation, understanding the likely benefits of verge planting and effective awareness of the program itself. Understanding the motivations of residents may aid in program uptake and enhance the contribution of resident verge adoption as part of an urban greening strategy.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Supervisor(s): Hughes, Michael, Fontaine, Joe and Newsome, David
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