Publication Date

July 2017

Conserving biodiversity and advancing wellbeing are goals usually siloed in environment or health portfolios, yet compelling evidence is emerging regarding the relationship between these activities. There is increasing academic and practitioner interest in the wellbeing benefits to be gained from experiencing nature in urban parks. Here we explore the understudied relationship between actively conserving nature in urban backyards and gaining wellbeing benefits. We investigate a municipal wildlife gardening program run by a community group-local government partnership in Melbourne, Australia whose purpose is to conserve the municipality’s indigenous biodiversity. Semi-structured interviews with program members in their gardens, supplemented by material from open-ended questionnaires from program garden assessors, were analysed for the program’s impact on participants’ wellbeing. Participants described experiential, social, and eudemonic wellbeing benefits including strengthened connections with nature, place and community, derived from participating in a program that immersed them in nature at home, gave their gardening a conservation context, and involved local government and community. These findings demonstrate that initiatives engaging urban residents on their properties to care for nature as part of local government-community collaborations have important wellbeing and environmental outcomes that should be recognised and further explored in both conservation and wellbeing policy and program approaches.