Victorians are passionate about the environment, and many are already playing a role in protecting biodiversity. However, more needs to be done, and soon, so we as a community can help Victoria’s natural environment.

Evidence shows that people who connect with nature are more likely to value nature and take action to protect the environment. Despite this, there has been a large gap in social research to inform how governments and others can support all Victorians to do more. To address this gap, ARI’s social researchers are leading a program of work to research, test and track the best ways to help Victorians value nature.

“Victorians value nature” is one of the overarching goals of the Victorian Government’s 20-year Biodiversity Plan: Protecting Victoria’s Environment - Biodiversity 2037.

This goal has two targets to reach by 2037:

  • All Victorians connecting with nature
  • Five million Victorians acting to protect the natural environment

ARI is helping to unite the resources and expertise of many groups to collectively work towards these targets. We are working with state and local government, nature-based agencies, Traditional

Victorians enjoying nature

Victorians connecting with the world diagram

Owners and Aboriginal communities, Victorian and international research groups, and community groups to develop and embed best-practice behaviour change approaches.

Establishing a foundation of knowledge and partnerships

Since 2017, ARI has been establishing a foundation of knowledge and partnerships to guide how we help Victorians to connect with and act for nature. This work is in partnership with many experts working in the nature-based sector and includes:

  • Fostering collaboration with more than 15 partner networks and working groups, and a developing a community-of-practice that includes agency leaders, practitioners and behaviour change specialists.
  • Establishing a baseline to understand how Victorians connect with and act for nature with the 2018 Victorians Value Nature - Foundation Survey. Now an annual survey, it tracks progress for the Biodiversity Plan 2037 - Implementation Report.
  • Developing expert guidance to determine how Victorians can act to directly protect biodiversity – known as “priority behaviours”.
  • Creating an evidence-based tool for measuring connection with nature, the “CN-12” in 2020.
  • Undertaking behaviour change research on attitudes, perceptions, and barriers around priority behaviours, including cat containment, dog leashing and understanding how Victorians’ access to nature was influenced during the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Publishing a synthesis report of ARI and partner insights and recommendations to better understand, communicate, influence and create opportunities for connecting and acting for biodiversity (2017 – 2021). See the following technical report for more information (PDF).

the key ways in which victorians can act for nature

Priority behaviours -  important ways Victorians can take action to directly help protect biodiversity

Researching, testing and tracking progress towards the targets 

ARI is now collaborating with many groups to research, test and track what we’re continuing to learn about people’s connection to nature and how we might influence Victorians to take action to protect biodiversity. Our work outlined below includes social research and applying insights to behaviour change projects, and supports the Biodiversity 2037 Plan in several ways, including:

All Victorians connecting with nature

  • The annual Victorians Value Nature Survey measures and tracks how Victorians are connecting with and acting for biodiversity. It also provides insights to inform further social research efforts and the design of programs to encourage Victorians to take action to protect biodiversity.
  • The annual Victorian Nature Festival is co-developed with major nature-based programs to highlight opportunities for Victorians to connect with and act for nature.
  • An ARI research project, which is seeking to continually learn from participants in the Victorian Nature Festival is growing our understanding of how to make nature experiences meaningful, accessible, and incorporating Aboriginal knowledge, for all Victorians.

Five million Victorians acting to protect the natural environment

  • An Environmental Volunteering Program is helping volunteers to do more for nature when, where and how it suits them.
  • A Citizen Science Strategy is aiming to increase public participation in data collection for ecological research. See the following technical report for more information (PDF).
  • ARI social researchers advise programs encouraging actions for biodiversity to co-develop and embed best-practice approaches. For example, throughout 2022-23 we have supported the Port Phillip Bay Fund, Open Space Programs and the Southern Right Whale identification project.

Importantly, ARI is working with existing and potential partners to establish ways of growing, linking, informing, measuring and tracking all activities across Victoria which contribute to the Biodiversity Plan targets.

This work toward the Victorians Value Nature targets is funded by the Victorian State Government’s Department of Energy, Environment and Climate Action.

For more information contact: Dr Kate Lee:

man and dog watching the sunset

To join this work or let us know what you’re doing that might contribute to the targets, please complete this form.

Page last updated: 30/05/23