The capacity of urban restored forests to support native birds: Ecological or social restoration?

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Elizabeth Elliot Noe

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Urban restoration can perform the dual role of creating refugia for native flora and fauna, and greenspaces where city residents can benefit from daily interaction with nature. Our research combines ecological and social science to evaluate the contribution that restored native forests in New Zealand cities can make to native bird conservation and reconnecting urbanites with nature. Birds were monitored at 43 sites in two New Zealand cities. Sites represented three types of urban forest: unrestored (n = 6), restored (n = 26), remnant (n = 6), and rural forest remnants nearest to each city (n = 6). Restored sites formed an age gradient of 1 to 73 years since initial planting. Using qualitative interviews, we explored city residents’ experiences of urban nature in parks and gardens. Results reveal that native bird species’ richness and diversity increases with time since restoration. Avian communities shift from being dominated by introduced finches to supporting a greater number of native birds as the forest matures. Results suggest that habitat is a primary limiting factor for native birds, demonstrating the potential of restoration to increase bird numbers in cities. The social study findings suggest that we cannot rely on urban gardens to support native biodiversity in the short-term and stress the need for local authorities to invest more time and resources in urban restoration. As the number of people living in cities continues to rise, our research offers renewed evidence for the importance of reserving a space for nature in cities.

Resource Type:
Audio/Video, Conference Presentation, SER2019

Society for Ecological Restoration