Wetlands are an important landscape element in the sustainable city, providing valuable ecosystem services that can be harnessed in alternative urban water management systems. To ensure sustainable wetland management, community preferences for wetlands in (sub)urban landscapes must be understood. Thus, public aesthetic preferences were examined for freshwater wetlands in Victoria, Australia. A simple rating methodology was applied, in which wetland images (N = 70) were rated for preference and selected connotative perceptual constructs on a 7-point modified Likert scale by participants (N = 241) recruited from community groups in Melbourne, Victoria's capital city. Data reduction analyses revealed preference categories and associated dimensions of preference, i.e. aesthetically relevant attributes. Statistical analyses related preference to the perceptual constructs as predictors and to respondents’ sociodemographic variables and their familiarity with wetlands. There were five wetland preference categories, with increasing preference from ‘brown grasslands’, ‘green grasslands’, ‘wetlands with emergent vegetation’, ‘wetlands with open water’ and ‘treed wetlands’. Wetland attributes that defined preference were presence of trees, amount of water and perceived wetland health, in turn defined by water quality, vegetation lushness and relative proportions of land and water. Predictors of preference were perceived wetland health, complexity, orderliness and perceived naturalness. Preference for least preferred wetlands increased with respondents’ familiarity with wetlands. These results can inform sustainable wetland management, by suggesting how their aesthetic appreciation can be increased through inclusion of aesthetically relevant attributes, when compatible with environmental goals, or provision of site interpretation and education programs to promote familiarity.


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Last updated: 17th Jun 2016