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Evaluation of Communities in Nature projects published in journal, Environmental Education Research

7 January 2015

BGCI’s article: Relating social inclusion and environmental issues in botanic gardens by Asimina Vergou and Julia Willison, was published in Environmental Education Research on 10th December, 2014.

The Communities in Nature projects illustrated how botanic gardens can be socially relevant institutions that engage with their communities and address issues of social and environmental importance. (Vergou and Willison, 2014, p.23)


The article presents results of the evaluation of four UK pilot community projects run by University of Leicester Botanic Garden, Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, Westonbirt, the National Arboretum and  Bristol Zoo Gardens.  To enable the garden staff ownership over the evaluation they were involved in the process from the point of project design and included in the collection and analysis process. The results were considered under the following four categories:

  • Addressing political and neighbourhood exclusion and enabling participation in plant conservation
  • Addressing social and economic exclusion and achieving individual behavioural change
  • Addressing individual and group exclusion and raising awareness of plant conservation
  • Addressing individual and group exclusion but not environmental issues

This information was used to develop a framework of analysis on social inclusion and environmental issues which ‘is one of the main outputs of the community projects evaluation and can also be used to support other gardens to reflect on different ways they can combine addressing social and environmental issues through their work.’ (ibid., p. 24)


The community projects were run as part of BGCI’s Communities in Nature initiative that seeks to support botanic gardens to grow their social role by developing and delivering projects which address the social and environmental issues affecting their communities.

the evaluation findings of Communities in Nature identified not only the benefits accruing from the projects but also the project characteristics those benefits can be attributed to. (ibid., p. 23)


This peer reviewed article will, not only, prove useful for other gardens wishing to reflect on and expand their social role, but also promotes and enhances the rigor of Communities in Nature.

You can download your copy of the article from the Environmental Education Research website. The first 50 visitors can download the article for free.

Alternatively the Author Accepted Manual is available on our website, where you can find other publications and resources related to Communities in Nature.

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