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Positive sentiment and knowledge increase tolerance towards conservation actions

Abstract

People generally possess certain basic ideas and values towards biodiversity, influencing their personal evaluation of a conservation situation or action and their attitude towards nature and its conservation. Here, we apply knowledge on human attitudes to an interesting socio-ecological system, the case of mitigating the devastating infectious amphibian disease chytridiomycosis in the Pyrenean Mountains, a touristic region. We conducted a questionnaire survey directly in mountain areas (n = 418) and on the internet (n = 868) to investigate whether attitudes towards amphibians influenced support of five possible conservation actions. We further analyzed whether attitudes were influenced by peoples’ use of the mountains, their socio-economic backgrounds, and their general knowledge of amphibians. Our study shows that all but one conservation measure were well accepted by the public. Importantly, the restrictions people would accept were linked to the attitudes the respondents had towards amphibians and how informed they were regarding the current status of amphibians. Our study highlights the importance of ensuring sufficient education and information for the public and suggests that it is necessary to explore and discuss several conservation options with the public before implementing conservation measures that may not be perceived equally.

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Acknowledgements

Our warmest thanks to all the people who kindly answered our survey, to the people who helped distributing paper, and internet questionnaires, especially David M. Aanensen and Chris Powell. We also thank Phillippe and Dominique Dupui, keepers of the Refuge de Bassiès, the children and teachers of the Ecole de Vicdessos, Marie-Pierre Julien, Christine Vergnolles-Mainar, Jérémie Cornuau and Deivida Vandzinskaite. We are grateful to Lauren Weatherdon for her valuable comments and for fine-tuning our English. This work has been supported by the Biodiversa project RACE, the LABEX DRIIHM - OHM Haut Vicdessos and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship FreeMi (EU, Horizon 2020).

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Correspondence to Adeline Loyau.

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Communicated by Samuel Cushman.

This article belongs to the Topical Collection: Biodiversity appreciation and engagement.

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Loyau, A., Schmeller, D.S. Positive sentiment and knowledge increase tolerance towards conservation actions. Biodivers Conserv 26, 461–478 (2017). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-016-1253-0

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10531-016-1253-0

Keywords

  • Policy support
  • Biodiversity monitoring
  • Prioritization
  • Resource allocations
  • Conservation efficiency
  • School experiment