Invasive plant suppresses charismatic seabird – the construction of attitudes towards biodiversity management options

Fischer, Anke; van der Wal, Rene. 2007 Invasive plant suppresses charismatic seabird – the construction of attitudes towards biodiversity management options. Biological Conservation, 135 (2). 256-267.

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Public attitudes towards biodiversity issues and the value judgments underlying biodiversity management and conservation are still poorly understood. This has raised serious concerns regarding the effective use of public participation in biodiversity policy making. We conducted quantitative face-to-face interviews with members of the general public in southeast Scotland to assess attitudes towards biodiversity management and examine attitude formation. For this, we applied social psychological attitude–behaviour theories to a case study investigating biodiversity management options for an island ecosystem in which the abundance of a charismatic seabird, the Atlantic puffin (Fratercula arctica) is compromised by the expansion of a tall invasive plant, tree mallow (Lavatera arborea). We found that attitudes as expressed by members of the public are informed by both value- and knowledge-based elements. Our research provides clear support for the notion that, in a conservation context, value-based principles matter to the public. Out of a set of seven conservation-related values, ‘balance’ and ‘naturalness’ were important factors that related strongly to the respondents’ attitudes. These relationships were even stronger for individuals emotionally involved with the topic. Other value-based principles such as uniqueness, autochthony and endangeredness of the species involved appeared to be of lesser relevance. The findings provide evidence that attitudes can be considered as distinct constructs that offer valuable and meaningful information to biodiversity policymakers and managers, and allow empirical insights into the way value judgments influence biodiversity management and conservation.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
Programmes: CEH Programmes pre-2009 publications > Biodiversity
UKCEH and CEH Sections/Science Areas: Watt
ISSN: 0006-3207
Additional Keywords: attitudes, biodiversity management, public, puffin, tree mallow, values
NORA Subject Terms: Biology and Microbiology
Ecology and Environment
Date made live: 24 Jan 2008 13:53 +0 (UTC)

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