Public Support for Ecosystem Restoration in the Hudson River Valley, USA
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We applied the Theory of Planned Behavior to help understand the relationships between environmental beliefs, support for ecosystem restoration actions, and willingness to pay (WTP) for restoration and protection goals in the Hudson River estuary, New York State, USA. We conducted a mail survey with 3,000 randomly-chosen local residents of the Hudson River estuary in the fall of 1999. As hypothesized, the broad ecosystem restoration goals of the Hudson River Estuary Action Plan were more strongly supported than the corresponding specific implementation actions. We found that beliefs and past behavior were better explanatory variables than sociodemographic characteristics for explaining people's support for ecosystem restoration actions and WTP for restoration and protection goals. Because ecosystem restoration goals appear to be more generally acceptable than specific restoration actions, proponents of restoration programs should not become complacent about the need for active public outreach and involvement even if initial restoration program discussions have been low in controversy. Efforts to assess and foster support for ecosystem restoration should be targeted toward audiences identified on the basis of beliefs and past behaviors rather than on sociodemographic characteristics.
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