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People’s Knowledge and Risk Perceptions of Invasive Plants in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Abstract

Effective management of invasive plants conserves biodiversity values, reduces economic costs, and minimizes negative impacts on human health. Fostering people’s awareness of invasive plants is one of the most cost-effective approaches in preventing the spread and introduction of invasive plants. Therefore, this study aims to understand (1) people’s knowledge and risk perceptions, (2) associations between risk perceptions and demographics, and (3) people’s willingness to support current management strategies in the Metro Vancouver region, British Columbia, Canada. An online survey was carried out and received 356 responses across the region. We found that people’s knowledge and risk perceptions of invasive plants were ecologically oriented. Older respondents perceived higher risks of invasive plants. Among respondents of the same age, annual income higher than $50,000 was associated with higher levels of risk perception. Respondents who had professional and/or recreational group memberships perceived higher economic risks. Respondents highly supported activities that they could take part in directly, such as community invasive pulls and native species planting. Overall, our findings aid managers in allocating appropriate funding or tailoring outreach efforts to different aspects of invasive plants as well as groups/communities where people’s knowledge and risk perceptions of invasive plants are low.

Highlights

  • People’s knowledge and risk perceptions of invasive plants were ecologically oriented.

  • Age and income were positively associated with perceived risks of invasive plants.

  • Respondents who had professional/recreational group memberships perceived higher risks of invasive plants.

  • Respondents supported local governments to spend funds on active management activities.

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Acknowledgements

This work was funded by an NSERC ENGAGE Grant in collaboration with Fiona Steele from Diamond Head Consulting Ltd. Local invasive plants managers provided feedback on the survey content at an Invasive Species Partnership Meeting funded by the UBC Partnership Recognition Fund. The survey information was distributed with support from Dr. Bianca Eskelson, the Invasive Species Council of Metro Vancouver, the cities of Burnaby and North Vancouver. We would like to thank Dr. Sarah Gergel and Fiona Steele, for providing information and suggestions during the project. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive feedback during the review process.

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Correspondence to Nguyet-Anh Nguyen.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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The study was approved by The University of British Columbia’s Behavioural Research Ethics Board (Certificate Number: H18-03449).

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Nguyen, NA., Eskelson, B.N.I., Meitner, M.J. et al. People’s Knowledge and Risk Perceptions of Invasive Plants in Metro Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Environmental Management 66, 985–996 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-020-01350-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s00267-020-01350-0

Keywords

  • Risk perception survey
  • Invasive plant management
  • Invasive plant prevention
  • Invasive plant education
  • Management preferences