Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 26, Issue 11, pp 2675–2697 | Cite as

Conservation priorities for elementary school students: Neotropical and European perspectives

  • L. M. RosalinoEmail author
  • C. Gheler-Costa
  • G. Santos
  • M. T. Gonçalves
  • C. Fonseca
  • A. I. Leal
Original Paper


Nature conservation can only be an efficient process if involving different society actors, especially those that have long-term and multiplying effects on how society relates with nature, such as children/students. To delineate nature conservation strategies, we need to understand the drivers that shape peoples’ behaviors and attitudes towards nature; for students this is mostly determined by their past experience and influence of their socio-economic and familiar context. To test these assumptions, we develop a study focused on elementary school students from Portugal and Brazil. In each country we selected two student’s groups representing two distinct socio-environmental contexts: rural and urban populations. Based on a written questionnaire, we aimed at understanding the effect of parental and socio-environmental contexts, gender, prior contact with nature and online news-associated environmental information, on how students prioritize taxa to be conserved. Furthermore, we analyzed how health, economic and touristic values constrain pro-conservation attitudes. Students from urban areas and from Portugal showed a lower probability of having a pro-conservation attitude. Brazilian and rural students may have a more frequent contact with nature and live in regions of higher biodiversity, two factors that may act synergistically to produce those patterns. Positive attitudes towards conservation seem to be over-ruled by health (i.e. self-preservation) and economical (i.e. financial subsistence) interests and values. Moreover, students prioritize for conservation species that are commonly mentioned in the online news, particularly mammals, and plants. Acknowledging that students rank higher health and economical values over conservation ones, as well as the perceptible importance of contacting with nature and the apparent relevance of online news as information vehicles, may increase the chances of improving the efficacy of nature conservation strategies. Furthermore, this information can lead to an improvement of environmental awareness and literacy.


Brazil Portugal Nature conservation Media related information Conservation values Questionnaires 



LMR and CF were financial supported by University of Aveiro (Department of Biology), CESAM (UID/AMB/50017), FCT/MEC through national funds, and the co-funding by the FEDER, within the PT2020 Partnership Agreement and Compete 2020. AIL was supported by FCT grant SFRH/BPD/88056/2012. We also would like to thanks all the support given by the Pederneira County, in Brazil, and by the Directors of D. Maria II (Cacém) and Alto dos Moinhos (Terrugem) Schools Grouping. Moreover, a special thanks is due to Profª Maria João Faria (D. Maria II Schools Grouping), and Profª Mafalda Mendonça (Alto dos Moinhos Schools Grouping) for their logistical support in implementing the questionnaires in the schools they supervised.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • L. M. Rosalino
    • 1
    Email author
  • C. Gheler-Costa
    • 2
  • G. Santos
    • 2
  • M. T. Gonçalves
    • 1
  • C. Fonseca
    • 1
  • A. I. Leal
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.CESAM & Departamento de BiologiaUniversidade de AveiroAveiroPortugal
  2. 2.Laboratório de Ecologia e Conservação, Pró-Reitoria de Pesquisa e Pós-graduaçãoUniversidade do Sagrado CoraçãoBauruBrazil
  3. 3.cE3c- Centre for Ecology, Evolution and Environmental Changes, Faculdade de CiênciasUniversidade de LisboaLisbonPortugal
  4. 4.CEABN/InBIO Associate Laboratory, School of AgronomyUniversity of Lisbon Tapada da AjudaLisbonPortugal

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