People engage with nature in different ways, we each value nature for reasons personal to ourselves and have a unique set of knowledge and understanding about nature. Being able to know how a group of people “see” an important part of nature can help to catalyse changes in behaviour when required.
Perceptions is an umbrella term which includes components of our relationships with nature such as knowledge, interest, social values, attitudes or behaviours. Perceptions research can assess perceptions towards particular conservation issues, species, places or management. Researching public perceptions of nature informs the way we try to engage people with conservation actions, ensuring messages resonate with the target audience.
Currently these projects include investigations of the types of nature experiences visitors want at nature reserves, a particular focus on public perceptions of the sea, as a way of exploring how to connect people with nature which is often out of sight and out of mind and understanding how public perceptions research can support conservation.