Motivational Goals of Seattle Homeowners Related to Their Yards: Implications for Ecosystem Service Assessments and Behavioral Appeals
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Nearly half of the land areas of many U.S. cities is zoned for single family residences (e.g., 49% of Seattle). These are fragmented management landscapes -- large numbers of parcels are individually managed yet collectively comprise substantial portions of local ecosystems. Promoting the health of urban ecosystems therefore requires engagement with owners of these properties. I conducted 17 semi-structured interviews with Seattle homeowners to understand the benefits for which they manage their properties. What motivates their engagement with ecosystem services derived from their properties? What are some of the salient values homeowners attribute to their properties that can be leveraged to promote pro-environmental management? To answer these questions, I analyzed these interviews using an ecosystem services framework and Schwartz’ basic individual values. I discovered that these homeowners have a range of motivations for engaging with the ecosystem services derived from their properties, not all of which are obviously a part of the basic nature of the service itself. Motivations appearing most consistently included those associated with in-group well-being (e.g., providing a healthy environment for one's own children, or building relationships through collaborative gardening), personal stability and security (e.g., feeling a sense of place, or perceiving neighborhood safety), and connection with nature (e.g., feeling at home in the landscape, or creating habitat for other organisms). The fact that any given ecosystem service may be used to address multiple motivational goals suggests that service assessments may be more robust when these goals are considered. Furthermore, urban homeowners may be more responsive to behavioral appeals that highlight opportunities to care for in-group members, to feel secure in one’s immediate environment, and to personally connect with nature.
- Forestry