Researching the Social Values of Urban Nature: A brief guide for individuals and community organisations

Fruit trees

Every patch of greenery or every tree in the urban environment has a story behind it. Who planted it or maintains it? How do different people feel about it? How do they use it or engage with it?

By exploring the stories associated with elements of urban nature we can enrich our understanding of an area. Not only is this interesting, but it can also be empowering. An ability to demonstrate the social value of small patches of urban nature can help us make the case for preserving, maintaining, enhancing, or expanding the natural environment in the city.

This short guide has been designed to offer guidance to individuals and groups seeking to uncover the stories associated with elements of urban nature and is aimed primarily at those with little experience of social research. It is not intended as a comprehensive guide to conducting the research, but as an indication of some approaches that are likely to work well. It is easy to find more detailed guidance on research methods online.

This guide was developed by Dr Stephen McConnachie following a research project in South London as part of a placement with Social Life. The placement was funded by the Valuing Nature Programme and supported by the Institute for Global Prosperity at University College London.

You can find out about the research at

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