Engaging People in Biodiversity Issues

Posted by Cain Blythe - CEnv MIEMA MCIEEM MSc BSc (Hons) on 30/09/2013

A recent report was commissioned by Defra. Entitled “The Biodiversity Segmentation Scoping Study”. The idea behind the study was to ensure that any engagement with people is focused and relevant, and to encourage more people to engage in biodiversity by 2020. They compiled a report with a mix of data and feedback from targeted groups to learn how to ensure people want to learn about biodiversity and take an active role in projects/community areas.


Levels of engagement were defined as follows-


  • Tier 1 (30%) - Not aware- Unaware of any loss of biodiversity or not interested in learning about this.
  • Tier 2 (17%) - Some awareness but not an issue they are concerned about.
  • Tier 3 (25%) - Express concern but not actively involved.
  • Tier 4 (18%) - Higher level of concern and some active involvement.
  • Tier 5 (10%) - Highest level of concern and active involvement


The report also assessed how to encourage communities and individuals to become more engaged with biodiversity. Highlighting key benefits from biodiversity is key to this, such as health benefits and recreational uses. The end aim would be to allow people to see that nature is not simply a nice landscape, or a nice extra, but something that benefits people and communities (a simple example being oxygen produced by plants and how we need this in order to breathe).


While a need for more engagement is important some people involved in the research did indicate that well meaning actions are not always necessarily appropriate “A lot of the seeds we were given were not suitable for the local area. You only had to look at them to know they would never grow there.”


In short while it is important to make people more aware of biodiversity issues it is also vital that they are given the right advice and guidance in order to ensure that their involvement has the best possible positive impact on the environment. The RPSB has recently launched an effective campaign ‘give nature a home’ to encourage small simple biodiversity measures into residential gardens to encouraging people to get enthusiastic and positive about wildlife.