Birds and trees: how nature infiltrates our everyday lives in city

Researchers seek to understand how Illawarra residents experience urban nature

The birds and the trees: how nature infiltrates our everyday lives in the city

As social isolation restrictions ease across the country and Australians start to venture out of their homes, University of Wollongong researchers want to learn more about how Illawarra residents experience nature when they’re outdoors.

Taneesha Amos-Hampson, lead researcher of the Everyday Urban Nature project, says researchers are interested in peoples’ everyday interactions with nature that often happen when we’re not thinking about it.

“When people think of nature in cities, they often think of parks and gardens, but we experience nature in smaller ways too,” she said.

“It might be an insect you see when you’re out collecting the mail, or a grassy area you pass when you’re out on a run or some birds that fly overhead when you’re on a walk to the shops, or a southerly breeze that cools you down on a hot day.”

The purpose of the research is to help inform policy-makers about the importance of everyday forms of nature that exist outside designated and planned parks and gardens. The researchers hope the project can expand how urban nature is thought about and encapsulated in planning for urban areas.

Ms Amos-Hampson says researchers are looking for Illawarra residents to be involved in the study by participating in up to three activities. This includes a simple phone interview; keeping a journal for one or two weeks and taking photos; and a follow-up interview to discuss the journal and photos. Participants can take part in one or all three activities.

Lead researcher of the Everyday Urban Nature project, Taneesha Amos-Hampson. Photo credit: Paul Jones

“We’re asking people to think about what kind of nature they encounter in their everyday life, how it makes them feel and how it shapes their day,” she said.

With so many of us spending the last couple of months isolating at home, Ms Amos-Hampson says the research project is a chance for people to appreciate those little interactions that happen when we’re outdoors, that we often take for granted.

“We’re asking Illawarra residents to notice the trees and grass, birds and beach and also those little things like insects and small plants. We even want to find out how people experience the elements like sun and shade, rain and wind, sand and salt.”

“After the tricky few months we’ve all had as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, asking people to think about how they experience the sights, sounds and smells of the outdoors is the perfect opportunity to appreciate the beautiful Illawarra.”

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