Environmental value orientation as an explanation of differing motives for conservation of the local biodiversity.
Förlag: IAPS Association
Biological diversity encompasses the genetic diversity within each species, the range of species in a given ecosystem e.g. species diversity and the diversity of ecosystems across an entire region (Primack, 2000). At present 1 per cent of the world’s described species are threatened with extinction. The most pervasive and overriding threat is habitat loss and degradation due to human activity such as agricultural practices and fishing, but also the development of human settlement and infrastructure. In Sweden 10 per cent of the regional plants and animals are threatened. The Swedish government has defined 15 environmental quality objectives based on five fundamental principles, one of them being the need to preserve the biological diversity. In addition to the national goals, county councils and municipalities formulate local objectives and implement the necessary strategies to obtain them based on expert knowledge. Little is however known to what extent expert opinions are supported by the inhabitants’ attitudes towards and motives for conservation of the local biodiversity. The overall aim of the project was to investigate the public’s attitudes towards biodiversity in Kristianstad municipality in South of Sweden . Kristianstad is characterised by a diversified nature. The region is well-known for its wetland areas, that has been suggested as Sweden’s first candidate as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. The present paper focuses on people’s environmental value orientation and the perceived importance of various motives for conservation of the local biodiversity as well as general attitudes towards conservation. The theoretical point of departure is Stern’s et al. (1995) model, suggesting that our basic values guide the view of nature or environmental value orientation. These values are further proposed to act as filters for new information. Stern and Dietz (1994) put forward three different environmental value orientations, a biocentric (sometimes called biospheric) orientation, where nature is valued for its own sake, an egoistic orientation relating to the value of nature for oneself, and a social-altruistic orientation were nature is valued for its benefits for the human-being. These environmental value orientations have been further elaborated and empirically related to basic values by Schultz (2001) and Schultz and Zelezny (1999). In the present study it was hypothesised that people from various social backgrounds express different environmental value orientations. They therefore find various motives for conservation of the local biodiversity to be of differing importance, although they may express a similar general attitude towards biological diversity. Empirical data were obtained by focus group discussions as well as a questionnaire survey among 271 persons, living or working in the municipality of Kristianstad. In the focus groups discussions that included various groups of inhabitants, motives for conservation of the local biodiversity were identified. By means of factor analysis these motives were interpreted as motives related to the importance of biodiversity for human recreation and well-being, biodiversity as a resource for human survival and conservation of biodiversity for the nature’s own best. The three environmental value orientations, as measured by Schultz’s and colleagues’ instrument, were to a similar degree expressed irrespective of the social background. People expressing differing environmental value orientation significantly differed in how they prioritised various motives for conservation of the local biodiveristy. Furthermore these motives did indepently predict the general attitude towards conservation of the local biodiversity. In conclusion it seems important to bring forward diverse motives addressing both people with egoistic, biospheric and social-altruistic environmental value orientation, in order to gain support for local objectives as well as strategies aiming at conservation of the local biodiversity.AcknowledgmentThe present paper is part of a larger project “Biodiversity in the public’s mind” financed by FORMAS grant 21.5/2002 and carried out at Environmental Psychology Unit, Lund Institute of Technology, Sweden, with DSc Maria Johansson as project leader. DSc Marianne Lindström assisted the work.
- Technology and Engineering
- Biological Diversity
- Value Orientation
18th conference of the Association for People and Environment Studies
- ISBN: 3-85437-263-9