Focus groups identify optimum urban nature in four Australian and New Zealand cities

  • Lucy TaylorEmail author
  • Erin H. Leckey
  • Dieter F. Hochuli


Urban residents and nature have often beneficial interactions, but there can also be conflict. We investigated the relationship between human wellbeing and nature in the two most-populous cities of both Australia and New Zealand. An online survey measured nature value orientations, and a selection of respondents who agreed to be contacted again were chosen based on their nature value orientation to invite to a focus group. This ensured that focus group participants represented a continuum of value orientations. Regardless of their nature value orientation, focus group participants were clear about needing nature in their city. They expressed strong opinions about how nature should be incorporated into the urban matrix to improve their lives. All focus groups described the integrated design of urban and natural elements when discussing positive experiences of nature in cities and had persistent concerns about how natural spaces are managed. While participants in different cities did discuss different landscape attributes and nature-related challenges, such as flooding, these differences did not affect the overall desire for nature in cities. We argue that urban design has the potential to ensure that residents engage with and experience nature in cities, and that design practices and policies could support the successful human-nature integration. Further research in other locations would determine how this work scales to either smaller towns and developed areas with smaller populations, or to mega-cities and other countries around the world.


Grounded theory Greenspace Urban ecology Urban design Value orientations Environmental management Qualitative methods 



We are grateful for the engagement of participants in all four cities for the survey and focus groups.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Life and Environmental SciencesThe University of SydneyCamperdownAustralia
  2. 2.Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES)University of ColoradoBoulderUSA

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