Biodiversity and Conservation

, Volume 27, Issue 7, pp 1763–1788 | Cite as

Arguments for biodiversity conservation: factors influencing their observed effectiveness in European case studies

  • Rob Tinch
  • Rob Bugter
  • Malgorzata Blicharska
  • Paula Harrison
  • John Haslett
  • Pekka Jokinen
  • Laurence Mathieu
  • Eeva Primmer
Original Paper


Making a strong case for biodiversity protection is central to meeting the biodiversity targets in international agreements such as the CBD and achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Effective arguments are needed to convince diverse actors that protection is worthwhile, and can play a crucial role in closing the implementation gap between biodiversity policy targets and outcomes. Drawing on a database of arguments from 11 European case studies, along with additional interview and case study material from all 13 case studies of the BESAFE project, we analysed relationships between potential and observed effectiveness of arguments. Our results show that strong logic, robustness, and timing of arguments are necessary but not sufficient conditions for arguments to be effective. We find that use of multiple and diverse arguments can enhance effectiveness by broadening the appeal to wider audiences, especially when arguments are repeated and refined through constructive dialogue. We discuss the role of framing, bundling and tailoring arguments to audiences in increasing effectiveness. Our results provide further support for the current shift towards recognition of value pluralism in biodiversity science and decision-making. We hope our results will help to demonstrate more convincingly the value of biodiversity to stakeholders in decision processes and thus build better cases for its conservation.


Biodiversity policy Arguments for biodiversity conservation Argument framing Ecosystem services Science policy interfaces 



This research has received funding from the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme under BESAFE (EC-282743) project. We are grateful to the anonymous interviewees who contributed to this study, and to two anonymous reviewers whose comments have greatly helped refine our analysis; any remaining errors are the responsibility of the authors alone.


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V., part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Economics for the Environment ConsultancyLondonUK
  2. 2.Wageningen Environmental Research, Team Biodiversity and PolicyWageningenThe Netherlands
  3. 3.Department of Earth Sciences, Natural Resources and Sustainable DevelopmentUppsala UniversityUppsalaSweden
  4. 4.Department of Aquatic Sciences and AssessmentSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUppsalaSweden
  5. 5.Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH), Lancaster Environment CentreLancasterUK
  6. 6.Division of Animal Structure and Function, Department of Cell Biology and PhysiologyUniversity of SalzburgSalzburgAustria
  7. 7.Faculty of ManagementUniversity of TampereTampereFinland
  8. 8.Finnish Environment InstituteHelsinkiFinland

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