Improving attitudes towards adders (Vipera berus) and nature connectedness in primary‐age group children

Kelly, Sam J.; Kelly, John S.; Gardner, Emma ORCID:; Baker, John; Monk, Chris; Julian, Angela. 2023 Improving attitudes towards adders (Vipera berus) and nature connectedness in primary‐age group children. People and Nature, 5 (6). 1908-1921.

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•1. Adder ( Vipera berus ) populations are experiencing declines in many countries, including the United Kingdom. Perceptions of adders and other venomous snakes are generally negative, making conservation of these species a challenge, and persecution remains within the top five perceived causes for adder declines in the United Kingdom. Improved understanding and attitudes are needed to support current conservation efforts. However, ensuring these positive attitudes continue into the future relies on addressing children's loss of connection to nature, and intervention at this early attitude-formation stage can be crucial for traditionally ‘unpopular’ species, such as snakes. •2. An adder-focussed public engagement project, Adders are Amazing!, was carried out in Pembrokeshire, United Kingdom, in 2018–19 to improve understanding and attitudes towards adders using a blended science-creative arts approach. The project included half-day primary school-based workshops to inform 111 pupils aged 8–11 about adder ecology, alongside creative art experiences. Questionnaires were used to measure the children's attitudes towards adders and their nature connectedness both before and after the workshops and these were compared with equivalent questionnaires carried out at a control school (57 pupils) where no workshops were conducted. •3. The project demonstrated that engagement that blends both art and science can significantly change attitudes towards adders without any direct contact with the animals themselves; specifically, participants' scores for ‘Wonder’, ‘Learning Interest’ and ‘Conservation Concern’ increased. The workshops also significantly increased measures of the children's general connectedness to nature (specifically, ‘Enjoyment of Nature’ and ‘Responsibility for Nature’). •4. We recommend conservation bodies focus on, and not shy away from, so-called ‘unpopular’ species, to promote understanding and acceptance of these species and support their conservation. Blended arts–science initiatives, which can be easily adapted to suit a wide range of species and the artistic practices of local communities, are an effective way to achieve this.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: UKCEH Fellows
ISSN: 2575-8314
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Open Access paper - full text available via Official URL link.
Additional Keywords: adder, art–science collaboration, attitude change, community engagement, nature connectedness, Vipera berus
NORA Subject Terms: Education
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Date made live: 10 Nov 2023 09:00 +0 (UTC)

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