Domestic gardens for conservation

A survey on the gardens’ potential and the owners’ attitudes toward supporting high biodiversity in nine European countries

Background

In times of global biodiversity loss, urban green areas, like domestic gardens and allotments, play increasingly important role in supporting insects. These gardens can be biodiversity hotspots or act as stepping stones for wildlife in a network of connected semi-natural patches. Ecologically minded garden designs and management can offer food sources and habitat refuges, which positively affect insect abundance and diversity. However, even though garden layout and location could increase diversity, garden use, and management often hinder those benefits.
Thanks to widespread modern technologies, data on garden biodiversity became easily and quickly available through citizen science projects, but our understanding on how garden layout, location, and management influence this biodiversity is still limited. However, it is now well-known that the attitude of garden owners toward a diverse garden is a key when the current and potential biodiversity values of the domestic gardens are to be protected. For this, it is key to be aware of the motivations of garden owners and to recognise their attitude towards learning about and protecting biodiversity. Indeed, exploring, maintaining, or even improving garden diversity is a multi-faceted issue that needs the cooperation of gardeners, their understanding of the importance of decreased pesticide use, and the maintaining of the structural diversity of their gardens.
To expand our current knowledge on the motivation for gardening and gardening practices, as well as to obtain information about the insect (especially pollinator) diversity of domestic gardens, we conducted an extensive online questionnaire-based study. Our research is pioneering in that it gathers from historically and culturally related nine countries of the European Union, from which such data are scarce. The significance of this research is that it amalgamates information of high conservation value and societal interest, from the central, eastern, and northern parts of Europe, where societies are traditionally less environmentally conscious than their western counterparts.
Our complex scoring system used to process the results serves as a proxy for indicating gardens’ potential for maintaining high biodiversity and assessing their possible role in designing eco-networks of biodiversity-friendly gardens with high conservation value.

What has happend so far

We circulated an online questionnaire among garden owners in ten languages in nine countries across Central, Eastern, and Northern Europe, between October 2022 and May 2023. The participating countries were Croatia, Czechia, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and Slovenia.
The data collection phase of the questionnaire has been completed and with the fully compiled dataset, the analysis is being conducted and the preparation of outputs (such as scientific articles, conference presentations, and blog posts) is in progress.

What is happening now

The article is currently being prepared. 

Outputs

Our first preprint based on Hungarian data is out. See the full preprint article here. Other results are soon to come.