Year

2014

Degree Name

Master of Environmental Science - Research

Department

School of Earth and Environmental Sciences

Abstract

Invasive exotic plants exert serious negative impact on Australian natural and agricultural ecosystems. About 94% of the exotic plant species are imported by the gardening industry and offered to retail consumers, who are usually gardeners. Thus, gardeners’ plant choice (choosing native or non-native garden plants) and bush-friendly behaviour (weeding and bush-restoration in reserves neighbouring their gardens) are especially important for weed management at the bushland/garden interface. The overall aim of this study is to analyse and understand the garden-related behaviours of Wollongong (NSW, Australia) residents who live adjacent to ecologically significant bushland using environmental behaviour theory. To achieve the overall aim, this study has several objectives: clarify the garden-related behaviours and plant procurement of the targeted residents, and identify the factors that influence those people’s garden-related environmental behaviour (plant choice and bush-friendly behaviour). These focuses are important for biodiversity conservation which is subject to weed invasion from domestic gardens. The effect of self-control, time pressure and knowledge of weed-control initiatives on the behaviours were especially examined in consideration of their potential to improve the prediction of pro-environmental behaviour. A mail survey was conducted (382 respondents). Data was analysed mainly using regression analysis and structural equation modelling (SEM). The path models for SEM are based on the theory of reasoned action (TRA) with additional variables.

The results mainly indicated: 1. Nurseries are the main source of garden plants and information about choosing garden plants for most survey respondents, but those who mainly get garden plants from nurseries do not obtain a higher proportion of native plants than others; 2. Plant choice and bush-friendly behaviour are most associated with the corresponding intentions, and the key predictors of intentions include attitude, perceived harm and knowledge of weed-control initiatives; 3. Subjective norm as an original component of the TRA is not significantly related to intentions; 4. Self-control significantly explains intention to increase the proportion of native garden plants; 5. Time pressure significantly explains bush-friendly behaviour, and interacts with intention to remove non-native plants from reserve(s). The interaction is such that when respondents perceive more time pressure, the effect of intention to remove on bush-friendly behaviour becomes smaller, showing time pressure is a potential contributor to the “value-action gap”.

The main recommendations for weed management include: 1. Strengthen cooperation with nurseries, and encourage them to promote native or certainly non-invasive plants and spread educative information about weed invasion; 2. Provide gardeners with information about the harm of invasive exotic plants; 3. Encourage gardeners to foster a positive attitude towards growing native plants, or certainly non-invasive plants; 4. Further popularise environmental initiatives about native plants and weed control and make them more accessible to local residents; 5. Provide people who live adjacent to bushland with practical suggestions about weed removal and bush restoration.

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