Resident and visitor support for urban natural areas restoration
Public support is important to the success of natural areas restoration programs. Support can be especially critical in urban settings where stakeholders recreate in or reside near natural areas but may lack familiarity with practices for managing these areas. Surveys of on-site recreationists and nearby residents of 11 Chicago metropolitan natural areas were used to assess support for eight different practices commonly used in oak woodland restoration. Support generally varied with the level or intensity of management intervention. More than 90 percent of those surveyed supported the planting of native seeds and plants, but just 32 percent supported the use of herbicides to control undesired vegetation. On-site users and nearby residents who believed that a restoration practice was already being used at the site they visited or lived near were much more likely to support the use of that practice than those who did not believe or did not know whether it was being used. These belief variables were the most important predictors of restoration support. Beyond these findings, research results also suggest that support should be viewed as a multidimensional concept that involves perceptual, demographic, and other factors such as management style which often differ for different practices. Managers can use the information from this study to increase their understanding of the relative nature of restoration support and devise holistic social-ecological strategies to achieve restoration success.