Urban ‘rewilding’ is vital to help address alarming biodiversity loss resulting from rural land-management practices and give city residents healthy contact with nature. Domestic gardens can offer an important resource for urban wildlife and people, but their habitat and amenity value have declined through residents removing greenery. Designers and planners must engage residents in rewilding their gardens by understanding how to influence this behaviour. A cross-disciplinary project, applying behavioural science methodologies to design research, aims to investigate pro-environmental behaviours in relation to improving the biodiversity of private gardens within Greater London, in the UK. The paper presents new findings from the study’s first phase: a scoping review of existing literature on understanding and influencing ‘rewilding’ behaviour in urban residential gardens. The scoping review maps the body of literature in the area of conscious pro-environmental behaviour change, specific to urban rewilding, through a process of screening, critically appraising and coding. A systematic search of peer-reviewed and ‘grey’ literature was firstly conducted. Papers were then screened by title, abstract and full text. The remaining papers were critically appraised to verify their, before being coded to establish their contribution to understanding and/or influencing rewilding behaviour. Key themes were identified using the ‘COM-B’ behavioural model, which states that behaviour derives from an interaction between one’s capability, opportunity and motivation to carry out a behaviour. The ‘Behaviour Change Wheel’ framework was used to identify potential intervention options, such as education, persuasion, incentivisation, coercion, training, restriction, environmental restructuring, modelling and enablement. The scoping review makes an important contribution to an emerging research field by mapping the recent body of work on rewilding behaviour. It will help designers and planners employ behavioural science strategies to encourage urban rewilding among residents, providing the urban nature needed to mitigate the ecological crisis and create liveable cities.
Siân Moxon is a senior lecturer in sustainable design at London Metropolitan University’s School of Art, Architecture and Design and the Environment lead for London Met Lab. Her research explores urban biodiversity within the Cities group at the university’s Centre for Urban and Built Ecologies, and includes the Wild Ways behaviour-change study. She is an architect, author and founder of the award-winning Rewild My Street urban-rewilding campaign.
Dr Justin Webb is an Associate Professor at London Metropolitan University’s School of Social Sciences and Professions. His research interest is in behavioural and social science, and public health. Justin teaches on the Health and Social Care BSc degree, the Public Health and Health Promotion BSc degree and the Public Health MSc, for which he is also the course leader.