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Visitor perspectives from two urban wetlands in Boorloo (Perth): The importance of birdlife and management considerations

Eastough, Annaliese (2021) Visitor perspectives from two urban wetlands in Boorloo (Perth): The importance of birdlife and management considerations. Honours thesis, Murdoch University.

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Urban wetlands are important ecosystems that provide vital habitat for birds, as well as being popular recreation destinations for urban residents and visitors. In the modern day, many wetland areas have seen significant decline due to increased urbanisation. Visitor perspectives of wetlands are important to consider, because how wetlands are perceived influences the visitor behaviour, provision of facilities and visitor support for management and conservation. This study collected information from visitors recreating at Walliabup (Bibra Lake) and Ngurgenboro (Herdsman Lake) in Perth, Western Australia. The aims were to evaluate visitor perceptions of urban wetlands as vital bird habitat, determine the importance of birds as part of the visitor experience and visitor perceptions of the wetland’s management. An on-site visitor intercept survey was conducted over 10 weeks from November 2020 to January 2021 (n=511). Visitors readily understood the importance of wetlands for birds and rated wetland habitat importance highly. Visitors also valued aspects of these wetlands that contribute to healthy bird habitat, such as natural vegetation and water quality. While recreational activities were considered more important to visitors, acknowledging the presence of birds was nonetheless rated highly. Existing management of the wetlands was generally well received by visitors, yet it was clear that there was a perception that there is room for improvement. Conservation, recreation and community management goals were believed to be carried out well and were considered important for these wetlands. Culture and research management goals were of less importance. Visitors identified a need for further education and signage, where the cultural interpretation of the wetlands was the most commonly mentioned type of information that respondents wanted to see. A notable number of visitors observed negative impacts at the lakes (~50%) where litter and pollution, disturbance by dogs and human disturbance were the most commonly mentioned. Visitors also indicated a need to improve visitor amenities and facilities, with more bins, benches, toilets and upgraded pathways being mentioned. Overall, the results of this study highlight the importance of understanding visitor perspectives, not only to improve the visitor experience, but to also gain further insight into negatively perceived aspects of the wetlands and the relationship between humans and birds. Furthermore, management recommendations call to further visitor research across wetlands on the Swan Coastal Plain, as well as adjusting current management direction for Bibra Lake and Herdsman Lake.

Item Type: Thesis (Honours)
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Environmental and Conservation Sciences
Supervisor(s): Hughes, Michael and Newsome, David
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