EGU General Assembly 2020
© Author(s) 2020. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Connecting the green dots: Enabling micro-scale participatory mapping and planning for citizen stewards of biodiversity

Natasha Pauli1, Clare Mouat1, Mariana Atkins2, Julia Föllmer3, Cristina Estima Ramalho4, and Emma Ligtermoet1
Natasha Pauli et al.
  • 1UWA School of Agriculture and Environment, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  • 2UWA Centre for Social Impact, UWA Business School, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia
  • 3Institute for Hygiene and Public Health, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany
  • 4School of Biological Sciences, The University of Western Australia, Perth, Australia

Within cities, vegetation along road corridors (variously referred to as nature strips, street verges or easements) can play a key role in providing habitat for wildlife and green space benefits for urban dwellers. In the city of Perth, Australia, many local government authorities (LGAs) now permit residents to convert the publicly owned land along the street in front of their dwelling from ‘traditional’ (yet exotic) turf to low growing, native gardens. ‘Verge gardens’ are perceived to require less water and better reflect a local sense of place by using plants endemic to the biodiversity hotspot in which Perth is situated. While interest in native verge gardens is growing rapidly within the community, there is relatively little supporting, spatially-based information for residents. The uncertainty of not knowing where to start is keenly felt by those residents for whom verge gardening is their first foray into gardening with native Western Australian plants in the sandy, nutrient-poor soils of Perth’s Swan Coastal Plain.

Two LGAs in the city of Perth, Western Australia, were the focus of this research, both of which have deployed incentive programs to encourage residents to plant native verge gardens over many years. We conducted detailed semi-structured interviews and participatory verge garden mapping with 22 households who had converted their verges to native gardens over the last ten years, gauging residents’ views on verge gardening, nature, wildlife, community and sense of belonging. A small number of respondents were already highly knowledgeable on the topic of native plants before planting their gardens, while the majority of the respondents had increased their knowledge of native plants from a low initial level through the process of verge gardening. Verge gardens were mapped to highlight plant species diversity, age of garden and garden design style. Some residents had already drawn their own maps by hand, and shared these with us. Others kept detailed records of water usage, maintenance, plant growth and turnover, and insect and bird visitors to the gardens.

A consistent theme that emerged from interviews with the majority of residents who claimed limited familiarity with native plants was a desire for more readily available information to help support their efforts. Information needs included: environmental data on soils, landforms, flora and fauna; knowledge of which plants would grow well in their soil type; where to source locally endemic plants; the most appropriate water and nutrient regime to care for the plants; and nearby examples of successful gardens from which to draw inspiration. Drawing on the results of interviews and participatory mapping, we present a prototype design for a public participatory mobile application that can provide geospatial and ecological information to help support residents, allow for initial planning and progressive micro-scale mapping of verge gardens, and provide the possibility for sharing information on exemplar gardens. Our research feeds into larger conversations among local-level policy makers and planners on urban greening, increasing social cohesion within suburban areas, and providing habitat for wildlife under conditions of environmental change and increasing population density.

How to cite: Pauli, N., Mouat, C., Atkins, M., Föllmer, J., Estima Ramalho, C., and Ligtermoet, E.: Connecting the green dots: Enabling micro-scale participatory mapping and planning for citizen stewards of biodiversity, EGU General Assembly 2020, Online, 4–8 May 2020, EGU2020-12526,, 2020


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