Case study shows how values-based communications can change behaviors
English ivy can choke—and kill—the beautiful trees that give yards and neighborhoods shade and character. What looks like a lovely little green plant can actually strangle trees, accelerate rot, attract mosquitoes and cause mature trees to fall down during storms.
To combat this pervasive problem in northern Virginia, the TreeStewards and Master Naturalists joined forces with Biodiversity Project to create a public behavior change campaign. Together, we wrote a full proposal for a grant from Arlingtonians for a Clean Environment (ACE). The proposal outlined the need for a region-wide campaign to remove ivy and explained Biodiversity Project’s process for creating one.
With support from ACE, over the course of a few months, we developed a campaign strategy, compelling messages and useable materials to spread the word about ivy. The resulting campaign, called Choking Hazard, targets homeowners with ivy-covered, mature trees who have inherited ivy or purposefully planted it in their yards.
The TreeStewards and Master Naturalists often hear comments from well-meaning people about ivy’s beauty. Homeowners think the plant is a lovely addition to their landscaping, yet in Virginia it is an invasive species that can actually pose a real threat to landscaping investments.
By spreading the word about the dangers of ivy to neighborhood trees, the TreeStewards and Master Naturalists hope to see a great shift in how northern Virginians treat ivy. Because both organizations rely on volunteers to reach their goals, it was important to train them on how to implement the campaign and stay on message. Biodiversity Project held two trainings for volunteers in-person in Arlington to walk through the ins and outs of the campaign.
The TreeStewards and Master Naturalists are happy to share their materials with other groups working to remove this invasive species in their communities. For more information about the campaign strategy and techniques used in the Choking Hazard campaign, or campaign materials, please contact Rebeca Bell at email@example.com.