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Open AccessArticle

Dog Walkers’ Views of Urban Biodiversity across Five European Cities

by Leonie K. Fischer 1,2,3,* and Ingo Kowarik 1,2
1
Department of Ecology, Ecosystem Science/Plant Ecology, Technische Universität Berlin, Rothenburgstr. 12, D-12165 Berlin, Germany
2
Berlin-Brandenburg Institute of Advanced Biodiversity Research (BBIB), D-14195 Berlin, Germany
3
Institute of Landscape Planning and Ecology, University of Stuttgart, Keplerstraße 11, D-70174 Stuttgart, Germany
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3507; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093507
Received: 13 February 2020 / Revised: 20 April 2020 / Accepted: 23 April 2020 / Published: 25 April 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Biodiversity Conservation and Sustainable Urban Development)
Contact with nature makes people feel better, live healthier and act more environmentally-friendly. We hypothesized that dog walking, an omnipresent people–nature interaction in cities, translates to a more positive view of urban nature and, subsequently, to more support for conservation initiatives. Insights into such positive side-effects of dog walking are relevant for dog-related urban policies that often focus on negative impacts of dogs (e.g., health risks, disturbance of wildlife). Based on a field survey in five European cities (N = 3717), we analyzed if people who walked dogs regularly valued four urban ecosystem types (park meadows, wastelands, streetscapes, forests), and the plant species diversity within, differently from other people. Opposite to our hypothesis, participants from both groups valued urban ecosystems and their biodiversity very similarly across the cities. Thus, our study does not confirm that regular dog walkers value natural elements more than other people. It thus remains an important challenge for urban planners to balance services and disservices of dog walking in urban greenspaces. View Full-Text
Keywords: biodiversity valuation; cultural ecosystem services; greenspace management; nature interaction; nature-related outdoor activity; pet ownership; urban biodiversity perception biodiversity valuation; cultural ecosystem services; greenspace management; nature interaction; nature-related outdoor activity; pet ownership; urban biodiversity perception
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Fischer, L.K.; Kowarik, I. Dog Walkers’ Views of Urban Biodiversity across Five European Cities. Sustainability 2020, 12, 3507.

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