Awareness, concern and willingness to adopt biosecure behaviours: public perceptions of invasive tree pests and pathogens in the UK

Urquhart, Julie ORCID: 0000-0001-5000-4630, Potter, Clive, Barnett, Julie, Fellenor, John, Mumford, John, Quine, Christopher P. and Bayliss, Helen (2017) Awareness, concern and willingness to adopt biosecure behaviours: public perceptions of invasive tree pests and pathogens in the UK. Biological Invasions, 19 (9). pp. 2567-2582. doi:10.1007/s10530-017-1467-4

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The growing incidence of invasive tree pest and disease outbreaks is recognised as an increasing threat to ecosystem services and human wellbeing. Linked to global trade, human movement and climate change, a number of outbreaks have attracted high public and media attention. However, there is surprisingly little evidence characterising the nature of public attentiveness to these events, nor how publics might respond to evolving outbreaks and the management actions taken. This paper presents findings from an online questionnaire involving 1334 respondents nationally-representative of the British public to assess awareness, concern and willingness to adopt biosecure behaviours. Despite revealing low levels of awareness and knowledge, the results indicate that the British public is concerned about the health of trees, forests and woodlands and is moderately willing to adopt biosecure behaviours. A key finding is that membership of environmental organisations and strong place identity are likely to engender higher awareness and levels of concern about tree pests and diseases. Further, those who visit woodlands regularly are likely to be more aware than non-visitors, and gardeners are more likely to be concerned than non-gardeners. Women, older respondents, those with strong place identity and dependence, members of environmental organisations, woodland visitors and gardeners were most likely to express a willingness to adopt biosecure behaviours. A comparison with findings from a survey conducted by the authors 3 years previously shows a decline over time in awareness, concern and willingness.

Item Type: Article
Article Type: Article
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via
Uncontrolled Keywords: Invasive tree pests and diseases; Public perceptions; UK national survey; Biosecure behaviours; Public awareness
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human geography. Human ecology. Anthropogeography
S Agriculture > SB Plant culture > SB599 Pests and diseases
Divisions: Schools and Research Institutes > Countryside and Community Research Institute
Research Priority Areas: Place, Environment and Community
Depositing User: Katie Hickford
Date Deposited: 03 Oct 2017 11:51
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2022 11:32

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