Kathy Eyles

Bachelor of Business (Land Economy) Graduate Diploma Applied Science (Environmental Management) Masters of Environmental Law
PhD Student

Kathy is a PhD scholar undertaking social research exploring the relationships between urban neighbours and nature reserves.  Prior to embarking on this research, Kathy has worked as an environmental planner, policy analyst and natural resource management facilitator.  Kathy is an active community volunteer with experience in social housing organisations, neighbourhood fire units and urban landcare groups. Kathy is a member of the Mt Taylor Park Care group, the Friends of Mulligans Flat and the Chifley Community Fire Unit in Canberra. Her research interests encompass urban planning and biodiversity conservation, community-based governance of natural resources and interdisciplinary and integrative research.

Research interests


Nature on the doorstep: Social perspectives of nature reserves and developing urban areas

Thesis description

As our cities expand towards the urban edge, new suburbs are being developed in close proximity to national parks and nature reserves. There are also long established national parks and reserves within our cities that provide important habitat for wildlife as well as amenity and breathing space for local people. 

Urban neighbours are often viewed as 'problematic’ and the need for separation to protect nature is reinforced in contemporary planning and management practice. New ways of seeing this relationship could focus on the opportunities for local people to value and experience nature and if willing, engage in sympathetic behaviours and participate in management. This type of urban engagement creates wider societal benefits with a growing body of research pointing to the health and well-being benefits of access to nature and volunteering. 

The potential for these beneficial relationships between urban people and nearby nature have not been widely studied, and there is little post occupancy research about social and ecological outcomes of developing suburbs near reserves.

Canberra, with its extensive urban-bush interface, provides an ideal lens through which to explore these people and nature relationships. Using case studies, this qualitative research will draw on the perspectives of the local people who use and live near nature reserves, people involved in planning and developing new suburbs and the managers of reserves, including local groups and volunteers. These perspectives will produce narratives about how nature is valued and experienced by the different actors and provide insights into their interests, knowledge and practices. By improving our understanding about post-occupancy relationships, this narrative will reveal pathways for promoting sympathetic behaviours for urban neighbours and opportunities for collaboration in management of reserves.


Research papers, books and reports

Eyles, K. (2017) Harness the ‘love’ – using social connections to re-frame how we manage urban nature reserves. Paper to 8thState of Australian Cities Conference, Adelaide, 2017. https://apo.org.au/node/178241

Eyles, K. and Davey C. (2016) The Gang-gang Cockatoo Citizen Science Survey, Community Engagement Final Report Canberra Ornithologists Group Canberra 

Eyles, K. (2015) Practitioner perspectives on nature conservation at the urban edge, Paper to 7th State of Australian Cities Conference, Gold Coast, 2015. https://apo.org.au/node/63215

Eyles K. and Mulvaney, M. (2013) Responsible pet ownership and protection of wildlife; Options for improving the management of cats in the ACT, Invasive Animals Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) https://www.pestsmart.org.au/responsible-cat-ownership-in-the-act/

Eyles, K. (2013) Media representations of nature in the city, Paper to 6th State of Australian Cities Conference, Sydney, 2013. https://apo.org.au/node/59809

Rainbird, W., Eyles K., Widdowson, J. and Welch, S. (eds) (2013)  A Labour of Love – Celebrating Landcare in the ACT, Southern ACT Catchment Group, Canberra, 2013.