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Evaluating the influence of nature connection and values on conservation attitudes at a tropical deforestation frontier

Mikołajczak, Katarzyna M., Barlow, Jos, Lees, Alexander C., Ives, Christopher D., Strack, Micha, De Almeida, Oriana Trindade, Souza, Agnis C., Sinclair, Frazer and Parry, Luke (2023) Evaluating the influence of nature connection and values on conservation attitudes at a tropical deforestation frontier. Conservation Biology, 37 (4). ISSN 0888-8892

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Identification Number: 10.1111/cobi.14067


Inner phenomena, such as personal motivations for pursuing sustainability, may be critical levers for improving conservation outcomes. Most conservation research and policies, however, focus on external phenomena (e.g., ecological change or economic processes). We explored the factors shaping 9 conservation attitudes toward forest and wildlife protection among colonist farmers around an Amazonian deforestation frontier. Our data comprised 241 face-to-face quantitative surveys, complemented with qualitative insights from open-ended questionnaire responses and opportunistic semistructured interviews. To account for the full spectrum of possible inner motivations, we employed measures of nature connection (indicating biospheric motivation) and personal values organized around the traditionalism (traditionalist through to high openness to change) and universalism dimensions (egoistic through to altruistic motivations). We used averaged beta-binomial generalized linear models to assess the role of external factors (socioeconomic, sociodemographic, and environmental) and personal (inner) motivations on the variation in attitudes. Each attitude was modeled separately. The relative importance of each predictor was judged by the proportion of models where it appeared as significant. Proconservation views were expressed by the majority (at least 65%) of the respondents in 7 out of the 9 attitude models. The most consistent predictors were emotional nature connection and personal values (significant in 4–6 out of 9 models), rather than external phenomena (significant in 0–5 models). However, the poorest farmers had lower scores on the agreement with prioritizing nature over development ( = –0.52, 95% CI: –0.96 to –0.07). Qualitative data also indicated that economic barriers hinder forest conservation on farms. These results suggest that biospheric, traditionalistic, and altruistic motivations promote people's proconservation attitudes, but nurturing these latent motivations is unlikely to improve conservation outcomes if material poverty remains unaddressed. Integrating the inner–outer perspective into conservation thinking and practical interventions could foster environmental stewardship and increase human well-being.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2023 The Authors
Divisions: Grantham Research Institute
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
Date Deposited: 21 Feb 2023 10:30
Last Modified: 14 Jul 2024 23:21

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