Ecological literacy in South Australian adults


This week’s featured research article has just been published in the International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology and examines lifestyle contributors to ecological knowledge and understanding in South Australian adults. There is widespread concern that levels of ecological literacy within many contemporary human societies are too low to enable effective decision-making about how to live sustainably. This paper presents and discusses the findings of an ecological literacy assessment of South Australian adults. The assessment tested for knowledge and understanding of ecological systems and interconnections with human society. Analyses revealed significant relationships between assessment scores and a range of value-based and behavioural characteristics. Such characteristics included the value placed on nature, time spent outdoors and in nature, involvement in nature-based activities, and perceived sources of ecological knowledge and understanding. Higher average scores were correlated with higher values accorded to involvement in outdoor activities, importance of the outdoors to enjoyment of life, importance of nature in the household, volunteer environmental activity and growing food. Higher scores were also correlated with higher education, research activities, outdoor lifestyles, place-based experiences, volunteer activities, mentors and colleagues, and books and magazines. Lower scores were achieved by those who considered media, natural disasters and environmental marketing to be major contributors to their ecological knowledge. These findings contribute to a broader study of the relationships between ecological literacy and a range of both socio-demographic and psychographic characteristics. The paper can be downloaded here.