Ecological literacy is founded upon knowledge and understanding about how the ecological systems of the Earth function and support life. A widespread concern that levels of ecological literacy within many contemporary human communities are inadequate to enable effective decision-making about sustainable ways of living led to a rigorous and carefully designed assessment of over 1000 South Australian adults from diverse sectors including industry, government, nongovernment, business and community organisations. This assessment tested for local and global knowledge, including an understanding of the interconnection of natural systems with human society. Quantitative analyses revealed significant relationships between scores and a range of socio-demographic characteristics. Scores varied significantly with gender, age, education, employment, place of growing up and time spent in South Australia (SA). Highest average scores were found in males, middle-age groups, the most highly educated, those with science-related educational backgrounds, those working in environment-related fields, those who grew up in small town environments rather than in large towns or cities and in those who had spent more than 10 years in SA. These findings contribute to a broader study of factors associated with ecologically literate individuals and groups within the western and industrialised adult community of SA. They form a valuable foundation on which to build efforts to further understand and develop ecological literacy within our citizenry and governing bodies.
KEYWORDS: Ecological literacy, environmental literacy, ecological knowledge, nature-based knowledge, sustainable communities, informed citizenship