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Outdoor activities increase conservation mindset

File Photo/SunLive. Rosalie Liddle Crawford.

Time in the outdoors increases people’s likelihood of taking action for nature, according to Department of Conservation research into New Zealanders and the outdoors.

DOC’s new customer research report provides a snapshot of New Zealanders’ experiences in the outdoors and their interaction with biodiversity and conservation.

The findings provide guidance on how Te Papa Atawhai/DOC might support New Zealanders to get more involved in caring for species and places.

The report also looks at domestic attitudes towards the outdoors and access to it.

Key findings include:

  •   •  Engaging more New Zealanders in outdoor activities is likely to encourage people to be more proactive in protecting and conserving species and places.

  •   •  New Zealanders have a limited understanding of what biodiversity is and why the health and richness of New Zealand’s biodiversity goes hand in hand with the health and richness of New Zealand’s people.

  •   •  This lack of understanding is a barrier to people in taking action for conservation.

Ensuring Papatūānuku, the land, thrives is at the core of everything the DOC does, says DOC Strategy and Insights manager, Tim Bamford.

“Whether we are restoring forest ecosystems or supporting New Zealanders to get outdoors, we are investing in the health of the natural environment as well as investing in the health of people,” he says.

“These insights provide guidance on how Te Papa Atawhai might further support New Zealanders in planting seeds for conservation.”

Approximately two-thirds (65 per cent) of survey respondents agree that preservation and conservation of the outdoors is one of the most important issues in New Zealand today.

More than half (56 per cent) of survey respondents agree the actions they take could have a positive impact on New Zealand’s outdoors. Respondents who agree that their actions could have a positive impact were more likely to be engaged and interested in the New Zealand outdoors.

“Connecting people with nature is crucial to charting a better future for New Zealand,” says Tim.

“People who are more active in the outdoors are more likely to consider taking action for biodiversity and conservation.”

Only 28 per cent of survey respondents say they had a high level of knowledge of biodiversity. When the decline in biodiversity was explained, 37 per cent say they believed they could personally help stop the decline, 29 per cent are unsure and 33 per cent say they can not help.

  1. Zealanders have a limited understanding of what biodiversity is, why it is important and what impact it has, so consequently many do not participate in taking action,” says Tim.

“Explaining biodiversity issues in simple terms helps New Zealanders understand why it matters. New Zealanders are interested in finding out more about what they can personally do to improve the outdoors.”

The research indicates there is interest out there, particularly if people have a wide range of opportunities to collectively and individually give back to nature that take minimal time, effort and planning, and can easily become a part of people’s everyday routines.

“Understanding the barriers to why many New Zealanders do not participate in action for nature helps us overcome them. In the meantime, there are some really easy and important ways people can contribute to protecting the country’s natural and cultural heritage,” says Tim.

“As a starting good point, find out about local restoration and pest-trapping projects. When people visit conservation areas, they should be well prepared, ensure they give wildlife space and remove all rubbish.”

Read the report New Zealanders and the environment on DOC’s website.

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