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Attractive, climate-adapted and sustainable? Public perception of non-native planting in the designed urban landscape

Hoyle, Helen; Hitchmough, James; Jorgensen, Anna


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Helen Hoyle
Senior Lecturer in Healthy Built Environments

James Hitchmough

Anna Jorgensen


© 2017 The Authors Throughout Europe climate change has rendered many plant species used in contemporary urban planting design less fit for use in public greenspaces. A growing evidence base exists for the ecological value of introducing non-native species, yet urban policy and practice guidance continues to portray non-native species negatively, focusing on their assumed invasiveness. In this context there is a lack of research focusing on the cultural relevance of non-native species in the urban landscape. To address this gap we surveyed 1411 members of the UK public who walked through designed and semi-natural planting of three levels of visual nativeness: “strongly native”; “intermediate” and “strongly non-native”, whilst completing a site-based questionnaire. Semi-structured, in-depth interviews were then carried out with 34 questionnaire participants. A majority (57.6%) of our respondents would be happy to see more non-native planting in UK public spaces, rising to 75.3% if it were better adapted to a changing climate than existing vegetation. Respondents recognised the three broad levels of nativeness, yet this was not a factor driving perceptions of the attractiveness of the planting. In addition to climate change, we identified four key factors driving acceptance and rejection of non-native planting: aesthetics; locational context; historic factors and inevitability; and perceptions of invasiveness and incompatability with native wildlife. Our research indicates that in the context of a changing climate, focus should be placed on the potentially positive role of non-invasive, climate-adapted, aesthetically pleasing species within urban planting schemes as these could be well-received by the public.


Hoyle, H., Hitchmough, J., & Jorgensen, A. (2017). Attractive, climate-adapted and sustainable? Public perception of non-native planting in the designed urban landscape. Landscape and Urban Planning, 164, 49-63.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 23, 2017
Online Publication Date Apr 21, 2017
Publication Date Aug 1, 2017
Deposit Date May 31, 2017
Journal Landscape and Urban Planning
Print ISSN 0169-2046
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 164
Pages 49-63
Keywords climate change, urban planting design, cultural relevance, non-native, species, aesthetic, public perception
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