Helen Hoyle wins PhD award for original academic research

Dr Helen Hoyle

Department of Landscape PhD graduate Dr Helen Hoyle has been awarded a prize for original academic research from the Landscape Research Group for her thesis ‘Human Happiness versus Urban Biodiversity? Public perception of designed urban planting in a warm climate.’

Helen, who graduated last summer, was awarded £500 and a year’s free membership to the Landscape Research Group.

Helen’s thesis considered public perception of urban planting and found that bright, colourful flowers – those with ‘wow factor' - are considered the most attractive, and beneficial to pollinators, whereas subtle green tones are related to a greater restorative effect.

A majority of the 1400 members of the public surveyed would accept non-native planting in public parks and spaces, and climate-change is a major driver of that acceptance.

Helen said: “In receiving this award I shall be celebrating the journey I started in September 2009 when I left my post as Head of Geography in the secondary sector to study for an MA in Landscape Architecture. At the time I had no idea of the opportunities and challenges, frustrations and highs of the years ahead.”

“Although there was already a convincing body of evidence linking urban green spaces and health and well-being, there was still little understanding of what sort of 'green' was most preferred by people, and of how people reacted to 'climate-adapted' urban planting. After talking to and completing questionnaires with over 1400 people who walked through woodland, shrub or herbaceous planting at 31 different sites in England, and conducting in-depth interviews with 34 of them, my understandings of these relationships has grown.”

“Our findings indicate that in the context of a changing climate, focus must move away from the strong nativism paradigm of the policy and practice guidance: Non- invasive, climate-adapted and aesthetically pleasing planting could be well received by the public.”

“I am looking forward to presenting on PhD findings at the awards event in London in May.”

Find out more about applying for a PhD in the Department of Landscape here.