A mismatch of community attitudes and actions: A study of koalas
Nicole Shumway a,∗, Leonie Seabrook a,b, Clive McAlpine a,b, Patrick Ward c
a The University of Queensland, Landscape Ecology and Conservation Group, Centre for Spatial Environmental Research, School of Geography, Planning, and Environmental Management, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia
b The University of Queensland, The Ecology Centre, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia
c School of Integrative Biology, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Qld 4072, Australia
Many wildlife populations, particularly in urban areas, are in decline. This is in part due to a disconnection between the lives of urban residents and native wildlife. The reconnection of social and ecological systems by understanding the linkages between people’s attitudes and conservation behavior will help improve conservation outcomes. This study investigated the attitudes of local communities toward koala populations and sustainable wildlife conservation in southeast Queensland, Australia. Data was collected using a questionnaire in face-to-face surveys (n = 102). Principal Component Analysis was used to quantify attitude and action statements into key components. Further analysis of demographics and knowledge of koalas was performed using analysis of variance and regression analysis. Results suggested that residents’ attitude toward koala conservation was strongly correlated with their home’s proximity to relatively intact habitat. Residents living in peri-urban areas were significantly more likely than suburban residents to have a positive attitude toward koala conservation, and be willing to participate in actions to conserve koalas, such as traffic calming measures, community conservation schemes and support for council-led conservation actions. These results highlight the importance of understanding variations in community behavior toward biodiversity conservation in urban and peri-urban neighborhoods and suggest that local governments and conservation groups use area of residence to target urban planning and conservation initiatives more effectively.