Hoyle H, Jorgensen A, Warren P, Dunnett N, Evans K (2017) “Not in their front yard” The opportunities and challenges of introducing perennial urban meadows: A local authority stakeholder perspective.
Urban Forestry & Urban Greening 25, 139–149. doi:10.1016/j.ufug.2017.05.009
The growing evidence base for the benefits for people and wildlife of nature-based solutions to managing urban green infrastructure lacks research investigating land manager perspectives on their implementation. To address this gap, we explored UK local authority manager perceptions of the challenges and opportunities of introducing perennial urban meadows to prioritise biodiversity and aesthetics. This was co-produced as an experiment in urban greenspaces with Luton Parks Service and Bedford Borough Council 2013–15. We conducted semi-structured interviews with the eight stakeholder managers involved to identify key factors impacting on the perceived feasibility of future urban meadow establishment in other areas. All managers identified three dominant factors (aesthetics and public reaction, locational context, and human resources and economic sustainability). Additional factors (local politics, communication, biodiversity and existing habitat and physical factors) varied in importance according to personal values and managerial role. Support for future meadow introduction and a desire to overcome the economic challenge of the disposal of meadow arisings were related to manager biocentricity. Managers were aware of changing public values leading to increasing acceptance of a messier urban aesthetic. They perceived perennial meadows as a realistic alternative to amenity mown grass that in specific contexts could increase local biodiversity and enhance aesthetics if implemented in consultation with the public and local councillors. Our findings have relevance for the wider implementation of such nature-based solutions to urban GI management: Changes in management practice such as the introduction of perennial meadows have significant political, strategic, economic and practical implications and cannot be viewed purely as a technical challenge.