A field of wildflowers

Designed for Connection

How Pathways-Informed Citizen Science is impacted by environmental quality to enhance nature connectedness, wellbeing and environmental monitoring in urban areas

Project Team:

  • Michael Pocock (Co-PI-UKCEH)
  • Ryan Lumber (Co-PI-De Montford University)
  • Rachel Pateman (University of York)
  • Jody Ferguson (Cumbria Wildlife Trust)
  • Victoria Carr (RSPB)
  • Victoria Houlden (University of Leeds)
  • Nikki Newton (Joint Nature Conservation Committee)
  • Miranda Bane (UKCEH)

Project Summary

A wealth of evidence demonstrates how environmental quality impacts people’s wellbeing in urban environments however, people gain benefits from high environmental quality in different ways. We propose to test the impact of how people intentionally engage with the natural environment in urban areas, to show how the benefits gained by people (Nature Connection (NCx), wellbeing etc.) are affected by how they engage (the activities: two different types of citizen science) and where they engage (different levels of existing environmental quality). Our project will align with existing conservation work by the Cumbria Wildlife Trust: Get Cumbria Buzzing!, which seeks to improve and connect pollinator-friendly habitats, while giving people training and volunteering opportunities, and to take action. Cumbria is renowned for its natural richness, but this initiative focuses on high deprivation urban sites in north-west Cumbria (Carlisle, Workington, Whitehaven and Maryport).

We will undertake a simple crossed experimental design (two CS activities x two levels of environmental quality) to gather evidence about the impact of these activities on participants. The two CS approaches will be traditional citizen science (‘science-led’: SL-CS) and a novel approach that will be developed (and evaluated) by us during this project. This new approach will be designed to engage the ‘pathways to NCx’; henceforth called ‘pathways-informed’ citizen science: PI-CS and so is expected to be more inclusive and engaging. Both CS activities will deliver high-quality data to fill the data gap in urban ecosystem monitoring. Environmental quality will be assessed with regards to pollinators with study areas (~0.5ha) being selected that have high and low quality for native biodiversity, with a focus on pollinators and pollinator-friendly plants.

Through this work we'll be asking the following questions:

  • Are pathways-designed citizen science activities more effective than traditional citizen science activities at promoting NCx, mental wellbeing and pro-nature behavioural intentions?
  • What impact does high/low environmental quality have on NCx, wellbeing and pro-nature behavioural intentions when engaged with through citizen science?